José Serebrier / Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Dvorák: Symphony No. 8; Legends

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The Warner Classics label, which has mostly focused on innovative programming concepts, deserves credit for its Dvorák series featuring Uruguyan conductor José Serebrier and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra: classic repertory, shaped by a great conductor, in other words old-school stuff of the best kind. The entire series has been impressive, but here Serebrier, nearing 80 when this album appeared in 2015, outdoes his previous efforts with music that's a joy from start to finish. The Legends, Op. 59, little tone poems without explicit programs, are exceptionally fluid and poetic. And the main attraction, the Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, is really exceptional in its level of detail and overall effect. Serebrier applies tempo variations in the first two movements (sample the melody at the very beginning), giving them the episodic quality of tone poems as well. The third movement is a transcendent apotheosis of the dance. And it all leads up to the finale, where little bits of rubato set off the blaring brass fanfare in such a way that you'll be stomping your feet. The Bournemouth Symphony plays at the top of its powers, and the engineering at the Lighthouse concert hall is top-notch. Destined to be a standard recording of the Symphony No. 8, and heartily recommended to all.

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