Symphony and Pops enter brave new worlds
By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/25/05
It's rare when both the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops release albums on the same day. Here's an ideal chance to hear two outstanding albums performed by the same musicians (but wearing red jackets for the Pops), under their two different maestros. Both are in stores Tuesday.
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (From the New World); Martinů: Symphony No. 2
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi, conductor
Telarc; CD: $14.99; Super Audio CD: $19.99
One might ask why make another recording of Dvorák's New World Symphony, already ubiquitous in record racks? The answer is simply this: The Cincinnati Symphony is playing at the height of its powers and Paavo Järvi's interpretations are thrilling.
Dvorák composed his Symphony No. 9 in New York and found his inspiration in spirituals. Yet the New World harks mainly to his Bohemian roots. Järvi's introduction is spacious and quite slow, illuminating a view that is more warmly nostalgic for the Old Country than most. This is a performance that is glowing and wonderfully paced.
The conductor expertly balances Dvorák's poignant, songlike themes with his most blockbuster brass moments. Järvi's pace in the Largo, with its famous English horn solo exquisitely played by Christopher Philpotts, is exceedingly slow, yet it never loses momentum.
Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was commissioned by a group of Czech refugees living in Cleveland to write his Symphony No. 2, which was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1943. This piece is a wonderful find - rich with lyrical Bohemian themes and sweeping strings that are often cinematic in scope.
For the scherzo, Martinu took his inspiration from 1920s Paris - jazzy and syncopated, reminding one of Stravinsky. The orchestra plays it all brilliantly.
Listen to audio clips and purchase this CD through Amazon.com.