Monday, November 07, 2005

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

From UltraAudio.comcomes this review by Rad Bennett

Dvorák: Symphony No.9, “From the New World”
Martinu: Symphony No.2
Cincinnati Symphony; Paavo Järvi, conductor.
Telarc SACD-60616, Hybrid Multichannel SACD.

Rarely, a recording of a standard-repertory work will come along that deserves to take its place near the top of a list of time-honored performances. This disc contains such a recording. I was sitting here trying to think of the number of recordings I have heard of Dvorák’s "New World" symphony, and finally concluded that it must be over 50, including good ones (such as those by Fritz Reiner, Bruno Walter, Erich Leinsdorf, Sir John Barbirolli, Karel Ancerl, and Artur Rodzinski) and great ones (István Kertész, Rafael Kubelik). This one, led by Paavo Järvi, joins that short latter group. Järvi has whipped the Cincinnati Symphony, already a good ensemble, into one of the best orchestras in the world. The woodwind playing is particularly wonderful, but no other section is very far behind. Järvi uses this magnificent instrument to create an interpretation of the music that is spot on from beginning to end: lyrical, heroic, poignant, forward -- in short, whatever the particular passage calls for.

Martinu’s witty, lyrical, neoclassical Symphony No.2 receives the same loving care and virtuoso execution. The work should be much better known, and this reading is sure to make it new friends.

Telarc’s producers and engineers have been trying to get perfect sound from Cincinnati for some time, getting very close to an ideal sound envelope for multichannel reproduction. On this disc they achieve their goal. It could not sound better -- the orchestra is nicely spread from left to right, the balances are perfect, the frequency range awesome. The surrounds give one just the right amount of hall ambience. The sound is alive, with great presence, although the recording is not as close-up as many others. The all-important timpani strokes scattered throughout the "New World" have incredible three-dimensional bite, and the piano and harp in the Martinu’s bustling rhythmic figuration are singularly palatable. This disc is Grammy material for 2005. Show that you recognize a potential winner by making sure you hear it.

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