For years, the Dvorák cognoscenti have known that the great Czech composer did not write only three symphonies and quixotically number them 7, 8, and 9. And for years, the Dvorák cognoscenti have known that, in fact, the great Czech composer's symphonies No. 5 and No. 6 are in every way just as lyrical, just as joyous, just as vivacious, just as thrilling, and just as well written as the last three. But for years, only the Dvorák cognoscenti have had a handful of recordings to make their case: the superb Kubelík, the rousing Rowicki, and the grand and glorious Kertesz. And even for the Dvorák cognoscenti, the greatest recording of No. 5 and No. 6 -- the supreme Talich -- were rarely available. So for years, the Dvorák cognoscenti have been voices crying in the wilderness, prophets without honor even in their own Czech country.
With the release of this 2004 recording with Charles Mackerras leading the Czech Philharmonic, the hope and prayers of the Dvorák cognoscenti have been answered because this is, without a doubt and beyond all argument, not only the greatest performance of the Sixth ever recorded, it is one of the greatest performances of anything ever recorded. Trained by Talich himself in Prague after the war, Mackerras has grown into the greatest living conductor of Czech music and his Sixth rolls and roars and soars and sighs and, above all and everywhere, it sings in full-throated ecstasy. The Czech Philharmonic -- now and always, the greatest Czech orchestra -- plays with its whole heart and soul, and Supraphon -- the greatest Czech label -- records it all so realistically that the listener might as well be sitting fifth row, center. Everyone who loves music and life should hear this recording.