Herbert Blomstedt / Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Symphony No. 35 "Haffner"; Dvorák: Symphony No. 8

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Veteran conductor Herbert Blomstedt has recorded Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 before, with the venerable Dresden Staatskapelle. Here he returns to the work in a live performance with the Israel Philharmonic, recorded in 2010 at Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv. Blomstedt cultivates a low-intensity style that's oriented toward precisely sculpted melodic flow. In the opening Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385 ("Haffner"), of Mozart, his approach is not at its best; the opening movement is full of odd mannerisms, and the minuet is so restrained that the contrast between the main theme and the trio almost disappears. But the main attraction is a good deal stronger. The music is controlled, with the Czech rhythms in the opening movement a good deal less bumptious than they appear elsewhere. The dynamic contrasts are muted throughout, but there is no shortage of power when Dvorák unleashes his brasses in the opening movement and again in the joyous finale, and Blomstedt gets some very exciting playing from the Israeli horns here. The engineering from the Helicon label (the Israel Philharmonic's recording arm) is excellently attuned to Blomstedt's subtle gradations of texture, and the spontaneity of live performance comes through. As long as you realize you're not getting the typical foot-stomping Dvorák Eighth here, this is a praiseworthy version.

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