Dvorák: Symphony No. 6; Concert Overtures

Jac van Steen / Dortmunder Philharmoniker

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Dvorák: Symphony No. 6; Concert Overtures Review

by James Leonard

With superlative recordings of Dvorák's unfairly neglected Sixth Symphony by Vaclav Talich with the Czech Philharmonic, Rafael Kubelik with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Istvan Kertész with the London Symphony, this version featuring Jac van Steen and the Dortmund Philharmonic certainly faces stiff competition, and while it may not be the very finest, it ranks with the best recordings of the piece in the 30 years prior to its release. Van Steen has the strength, energy, and sympathetic understanding to put the best face on Dvorák's unendingly cheerful Sixth. With the spirited support of the Dortmund musicians, van Steen delivers a lilting opening Allegro non tanto, a lyrical Adagio, a robust Scherzo, and an unstoppable closing Allegro con spirito. The three concert overtures also included -- In Nature's Realm, Carnival, and Othello -- likewise get frisky and forceful performances that, while they do not surpass Kubelik's or Kertész's masterful interpretations, come amazingly close. Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm doesn't give the project the kind of warm but clear recording that company is known for, and the sound is rather thin.

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