Ludovic Morlot / Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 "New World"; Varèse: Amériques

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

The live albums released by Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony typically have appealing programs of showpieces that complement each other in a musical or stylistic sense. In the case of this 2015 CD of Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World," and Edgard Varèse's Amériques, the basis for the pairing is the abstract idea of America, rather than any direct musical connection. Dvorák's portrait of the New World is a Romantic evocation of the United States, though this image is filtered through an essentially Bohemian and European outlook, as well as Dvorák's genius. Varèse's modernist work for a massive orchestra casts America (South America, this time) as an exotic and threatening jungle, though he likely intended it to represent the wilderness of the imagination, rather than a specific place. For some listeners, the match-up may seem incongruous, albeit thought-provoking, though the performances are first-rate and the sound quality of this CD is exceptional, a hallmark of the Seattle Symphony's label. Dvorák's extremely popular symphony is sure to invite most listeners, but don't overlook Amériques, one of Varèse's most brilliant and exciting works.

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