Václav Neumann

Dvorák: Symphonie No. 9 "Du Noveau Monde"

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Although this disc is front-loaded with pleasant filler, the most interesting -- and frustrating -- recording is of Vaclav Neumann's live performance with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra of Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World." Recorded in 1971, this is an expressive reading with fine orchestral color and energetic playing, and the excitement generated in the concert setting makes it rather compelling. As might be expected from a great Czech orchestra, the woodwinds provide the most fascinating sonorities, and one wishes they could be heard more distinctly. Unfortunately, sound levels have been lowered to hide extraneous noises, and the digital mastering of the analog tape seems to have vacuumed much of the air out of the performance. As a result, the listener has to make frequent volume adjustments, only to feel cheated by the unnatural sound. Since the symphony is treated so badly, the remaining selections are small comfort, but not enough to recommend this album. The CPO, conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, turns in a fairly appealing live performance of Dvorák's concert overture In Nature's Realm, and cellist Michal Kanka and the Janácek Philharmonic of Ostrava, directed by Tomas Koutnik, are quite warm in the Rondo in G minor and Silent Woods, the disc's only studio tracks.

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