Paavo Järvi / Yehudi Menuhin / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Dvorák: Symphonies 8 & 9; Serenade for Strings

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The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is joined here by two legendary conductors: Yehudi Menuhin and Paavo Järvi. The actual recorded sound on both discs is inconsistent and problematic. At times, the sound is clear, full, and rich. But more often than not, it almost sounds like a monaural recording. That is, the sound is frequently "dead" and flat, and it sounds as if the orchestra is sitting in a different room than the microphones. These sound quality issues detract significantly from the enjoyment of this album.

Menuhin, who conducts Dvorák's Eighth Symphony and the Serenade for Strings, provides the more successful half of the collection. His tempi choices are much more appropriately matched to the music. The Adagio from the Eighth Symphony is quite beautifully performed, and the finale is exuberant and driven. The String Serenade, while not as edgy as performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, is still satisfying and exciting. Surprisingly, Järvi's interpretation of the Ninth Symphony is exceedingly lackluster. The three fast movements, labeled Allegro molto, Molto vivace, and Allegro con fuoco, are each quite slow. This blasé reading coupled with the sound quality issues makes for a generally unsatisfactory recording choice.

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