Antonin Dvorak – Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8 – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop (2010/2015)
DSF Stereo DSD64, 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 01:01:51 minutes | 2,44 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Booklet, Front Cover | © 2xHD / Naxos Right US, Inc.
Recorded live at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, USA, 10th to 13th January, 2008 (tracks 5-8), 19th to 22nd March, 2009 (tracks 1-4)
Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra follow a critically acclaimed recording of Dvorák’s Ninth, with this live album from Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. Dvorák’s most darkly dramatic and passionate symphony, the Seventh, is coupled here with this Eighth, notable for its dramatic contrasts, Bohemian lyricism and a seemingly spontaneous flow of thematic ideas. Audiophile Audition named this one of the best albums of 2011 for both its performances and sonic excellence.
This album was mastered using our 2xHD proprietary system. In order to achieve the most accurate reproduction of the original recording we tailor our process specifically for each project, using a selection from our pool of state-of-the-art audiophile components and connectors. The process begins with a transfer to analog from the original DSD master, using cutting edge D/A converters. The analog signal is then sent through a hi-end tube pre-amplifier before being recorded directly in DXD using the dCS905 A/D and the dCS Vivaldi Clock. All connections used in the process are made of OCC silver cable.
The amount of felicitous detail here is more than enough to justify purchase, even if you already own one or more versions of either work. Take the slow movement of the Seventh, the delicately drawn cello line at around 6’22”, or the clarity of the Scherzo’s outer sections, though I could have done with a touch more forcefulness from the hammering horns at 4’47”. In the darkly dramatic finale Alsop allows herself just enough expressive leeway to sweeten the pill without spoiling the line—in the cello-dominated second subject, for example, where the pulse eases ever so slightly. Only the first movement struck me as rather too strait-laced, with next to no deviation in tempo throughout. This is restless, autumnal music that surely demands a more rhapsodic approach (compare Kubelík, Rowicki and Dorati), whereas in the Eighth Alsop turns on her heels and opts for subtle expressiveness, delivering one of the most tender accounts of the finale’s wind-down coda that I’ve heard since Bruno Walter. Again the first movement is very “straight” but this time, with less weathered music, the approach works better: no tiresome ritardandos impede the flow and there’s an impressive contrast between chamber-style intimacy in the quieter passages and impressive, full-blown climaxes. The third movement’s Trio is just a little pallid (rather that though than excessive schmaltz) but heard overall the performance works extremely well, and both recordings are thoughtfully balanced.
As to recent rivals in the same coupling, Mackerras and the Philharmonia, recorded live (Signum, 4/10), offer bags of spontaneity and at times even more warmth, though Alsop’s Baltimore orchestra parades a refined tonal profile that pays its own special dividends. Still, as I’ve already suggested, Alsop should please both the eager newcomer on the lookout for a recommendation and the seasoned collector who knows and loves the music but fancies listening between the staves. There’ll be no disappointment on either score. –Rob Cowan, Gramophone
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, B. 141
1 I. Allegro maestoso 10:14
2 II. Poco adagio 10:08
3 III. Scherzo: Vivace – Poco meno mosso 07:40
4 IV. Finale: Allegro 09:01
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, B. 163
5 I. Allegro con brio 10:24
6 II. Adagio 10:54
7 III. Allegretto grazioso – Molto vivace 06:14
8 IV. Allegro ma non troppo 09:45
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor