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DVORÁK: Symphony No. 6; The Water Goblin – Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg/ Marcus Bosch – Coviello Classics

DVORÁK: Symphony No. 6; The Water Goblin – Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg/ Marcus Bosch – Coviello Classics COV 31316 multichannel SACD, 64:21 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

The disc being reviewed is a perfectly fine recording of the Symphony No. 6, but is most welcome for a fine performance of Vodnik, The Water Goblin.

The work is a symphonic poem written in 1896. The source material for The Water Goblin was a poem found in a collection published by Karel Jaromír Erben under the title Kytice. Four of the six symphonic poems that Dvorák composed were inspired by works of poetry found in that collection.

This work tells the story of a Water Goblin who abducts a maiden and fathers a child with her. It’s a colorful work, written as a rondo. The theme is established, and then transforms in mood as the tragic story progresses. This is a beautiful composition, and the playing under the baton of Marcus Bosch is exciting and driving. The recording is absolutely first rate, especially listening to the 5.0 SACD layer. The Nürnberg recording venue has very rich acoustics, and the resulting sound is realistic and satisfying.

The Symphony No. 6 is much more familiar, and it is also well-played and brilliantly recorded. Composed in 1880, it was one of Dvorák’s first large scale works to gain the attention of audiences and critics. For Dvorák, this period of his life was one of experimentation. Themes in the work are modeled from Bohemian folk melodies, but they are only a thin basis for a work that soars beyond the simple folk influences.

As in Vodnik, this work is a splendid performance and recording. There is little to criticize from such a sharp performance and a revealing recording that never calls attention to itself. It simply mirrors the music, and puts you in the concert hall. The rear channels are subdued, as they should be, so the orchestra dominates rather than the hall. Instruments are not spotlighted, so we get the orchestra as a cohesive whole. It’s a fine recording.

—Mel Martin

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