Paavo Järvi / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"

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Although Paavo Järvi's recording of Antonin Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World," with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the most frequently reissued, that's no indication of its artistic worth or of any real need to keep it in print. Considering that Järvi takes fast tempos somewhat slower than usual, regularly goes even slower for sustained lyrical passages, crawls at a snail's pace through the famous Largo, generally exaggerates dynamics for theatrical effects, and distorts the symphony's broad form for the sake of momentary expressions, one might feel that this is an extraordinarily self-indulgent and undisciplined performance that only the most naïve or distracted listener could bear. Yet the "New World" symphony is one of the most popular works of all time, and there is no dearth of good to excellent to sublime recordings on the market, so no one should settle for this mediocre performance. Add to this the poorly balanced sound, which unexpectedly veers between bare audibility to uncomfortably loud blasts and the rather flat dimensions of the orchestral sound, which seem to come from dry acoustics. In the end, this recording will disappoint anyone who is looking for a great interpretation of this beloved symphony, and the so-so filler tracks of the Scherzo Capriccioso and the Carnival Overture are not good enough to compensate.

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