Marcus Bosch / Nürnberger Philharmoniker

Dvorák: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7

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The Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 10, of Antonín Dvorák is not a terribly common work, and pairings of it with the Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, are rare. This, by conductor Marcus Bosch and the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg, may be the first such release since a fine Vienna Philharmonic/Myung Whun-Chung outing in the 1990s. There are aspects that recommend this 2012 release. The Symphony No. 3, written in the early 1870s, is a youthful work that seems to draw by turns on Wagner, Berlioz, and Smetana in its riverine music. Bosch, who is best known as an operatic conductor, takes things at a somewhat slower pace than his predecessor and whips up very convincing climaxes in the Wagnerian opening movement of the Symphony No. 3 and the more characteristic Czech fun of the Symphony No. 7. The music is elegantly shaped throughout, and in the Symphony No. 3, a work that can fall to pieces under a less-than-strong hand, that's a real accomplishment. Coviello Classics' live sound from the Meistersinger-Halle in Nürnberg is impressive. So what's not to like? The gap between the strong regional orchestras of Europe and the major old institutions is certainly smaller than it used to be, and the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg (Nuremberg State Philharmonic Orchestra) delivers what to a general symphony-going audience would be a satisfying performance. But the strings don't have the precision of the Vienna Philharmonic, nor even of the Aachen Philharmonic with which Bosch has formerly worked. With the Myung Whun-Chung version available made to order by reissue houses, it's worth sampling the two side by side to see if the strengths of this new version compete with the sheer silkiness of the last one.

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