DVORAK: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World” – The New Philharmonia Orchestra/ Antal Dorati – HDTT

by | Nov 29, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

DVORAK: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World” – The New Philharmonia Orchestra/ Antal Dorati – HDTT 96K/24 DVD-R, 43:24 ***:

Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati (1906-1988) made a number of recordings for Philips with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, most notably of Tchaikovsky’s Four Suites for Orchestra. The New World transferred from a London Records four-track tape is a highly polished account, though Dorati rarely penetrated a score in the tragic manner of his slightly younger compatriot Ferenc Fricsay, nor brought out the extroverted richness of colors as did another gifted Hungarian, Istvan Kertesz.

What makes this account interesting, besides its excellent sonic patina, is the taking of the repeat in the first movement Adagio-Allegro molto and the beauty of woodwind playing in the luxuriantly spacious Largo movement. A literalist, Dorati rarely lingers over a phrase, but the string quartet at the end of the Largo does communicate a delicate intimacy of expression. The opening chords (with triangle) to the Scherzo enjoy a pungency likely meant to imitate the Scherzo from Beethoven’s Ninth. The rolls of the tympani prove quite compelling, as do the riffs for the doublebasses. The trio conveys a naturally bucolic sentiment, rather glibly straightforward. The phraseology is all four-square, but the quality of intonation and orchestral poise keep the colors vibrant. The separation between the tympanic triplets and the bass and cello lines is extraordinarily present, the high winds and triangle stereoscopically incisive.

Trumpets rule the last movement, Allegro con fuoco. The NPO sound has more warmth than George Szell elicited from his Cleveland Orchestra, though Szell had an animal drive that Dorati eschews in favor of a voluptuous bass line. We get the sense of Dvorak’s debts to Wagner’s orchestration. Nice attention to the shifts in string timbre in the development section. The haunting cello line extends to the strings in trill and the woodwind serenade with bassoon punctuations. Horn stretti and triplets are passionate, with no shatter in the sound (courtesy of Symposium Acoustics vibration control equipment), more driven than is often Dorati’s wont, a real tour de force that resolves into the tympanic statement of the rhythm. An apotheosis of light and fury at the conclusion, worthy of any of Dorati’s heralded ballet recordings. So why not add Dorati’s Carnival Overture to the mix?

— Gary Lemco

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