Orchestra/ Sir Colin Davis – LSO MultiChannel SACD LSOO526 46:17
Recorded 29-30 September 2004 in live performance, Sir Colin Davis’s
reading of the Dvorak pastoral 1880 Symphony No. 6 has much to commend
it, including some wonderful work in the woodwinds and brass, a
hallmark of the LSO’s unique sound. I recall having been initiated into
the Brahmsian wonders of this symphony by Erich Leinsdorf’s reading
with the Cleveland Orchestra, when the piece was proffered as Dvorak’s
“Symphony No. 1.” Alternately bucolic and dramatic, even somewhat
militant, the symphony owes debts to the D Major Symphony of Brahms;
although the opening movement’s bassoon part, along with the interplay
of flute and strings, especially violas, is very much Dvorak’s own.
When the brass section and basses reach out from their respective
sections and grab you in your sound system, the multichannel effects
are quite compelling.
Along with a delicately scored, exalted Adagio in the manner of
Beethoven, Dvorak has a rollicking, rough-hewn Furiant for a Scherzo,
with a shepherd’s pipe piccolo sailing out of the blue in the trio. The
finale’s concluding presto, too, is all sparkle and contrapuntal
energy, with excellent orchestral balances in the modal brass fanfares.
But why the label insists on isolating each of their symphony releases
in its 45-minute space, I do not understand. Certainly, a couple of
concert overtures, or the rarely programmed first Slavonic Rhapsody,
would provide more than mere filler and justify this rendition in an
already bounteous market.