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  Philips Classics -
  470 617-2
  Dvorak: Symphony Nos. 8, 9 - Fischer
  Dvorak: Symphony Nos. 8, 9 "From the New World"

Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer (conductor)
Track listing:
  1-4. Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World"
5-8. Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88

Total time: 78:00
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Executive Producer: Clive Bennety
Recording Producer/Balance Engineer: Hein Dekker
Recording Engineer: Roger de Schot
Editor: Thijs Hoekstra

Recorded at The Italian Institute, Budapest, February 29 - March 3, 2000.

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Related titles: 22 show all

Reviews: 11 show all

Review by threerandot May 31, 2007 (13 of 16 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have avoided reviewing this disc, but I have also wanted to express my opinions on it for quite some time. I did want to give it a fair chance, since many seem to regard it as a recording that could well be the new benchmark.

Ivan Fischer is obviously a sensitive and intelligent conductor, but after repeated listenings to this recording, I still find something nags me about this disc. As a matter of fact, I have had a difficult time putting my finger on it. As far as performances go, I find this disc uneven and much of the playing seems routine. There seems to be some rather tepid playing throughout and Fischer only catches some of the nuances of these works.

The Ninth has an uneventful first movement and even more uneventful Largo which just lags. Things pick up a little more in the third. The Finale does have more spark than the rest of this symphony and stands out as a result. The Eighth begins with a definite improvement, the sound having a little more body and focus and it is played better than the Ninth, with more sparkle and passion.

I wish I could say more about the sound of this disc. I think there is perhaps too much depth and a lack of focus. Winds aren't very colorful or rich and strings lack body. Bass is fine I'd say and the brass do come through quite nicely. The tympani are unimpressive.

An important point I'd like to make is that one of the big problems in this disc is that the details sometimes go missing. Winds just don't seem to come through very clearly and lack focus and detail. Pizzicato strings also seem to be missing in action.

This is a disc that initially illicited a very favourable response from others here and perhaps I expected too much. But I have had the disc for almost a year and my opinion of it has improved only somewhat. Don't get me wrong. This is certainly not the worst performance of these works you are likely to hear. The Budapest Orchestra is a very capable body, but the sound and uneven performances take away from what could have been a much better outing.

(This review refers to the MCH portion of this disc.)

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Review by PeterJones April 5, 2005 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Awesome! This SACD was the second I listened to, but..well read on. I had just received my order from and popped in Podger's Vivaldi "La Stravaganza" into my new (cheap) SACD player not really expecting much. After the first few notes I was amazed. The sound was incredible. Such warmth and vitality...I didn't think recorded music could sound so good...but I hadn't heard the Dvorak yet.

I spent most of my Saturdays as a teenager playing in chamber orchestras and symphonies (Mooredale Young Virtuosos Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra) and am familiar with the sound of a string orchestra from the inside and out.

I couldn't believe my ears when I first listened to the Dvorak SACD (in multi-channel sound) this SACD somehow captured that symphonic warmth and depth and breadth of sound that I had only ever heard in a Symphony hall. My scepticism about SACD turned from doubt to faith.

One word of warning...after you listen to this SACD you will likely be disappointed with others. I just haven't found anything else that sounds this good.

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Review by prometheus August 24, 2005 (8 of 15 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
From all points of the compass, Fischer's Dvorak has attained Consensus All-World status for a performance of the 'New World' symphony.While it is, in general, well played and well recorded--doubtless converting many an SACD naysayer--one might add a couple of (doubtless) iconoclastic quibbles.

Multichannel issues aside, the newcomer has the temerity to challenge Sony's SACD from Szell and the Cleveland--so it had better be flawless! And flawless, I feel, it is not. One reviewer on the site has complained of a glare and unnatural prominence surrounding trumpets and trombones: I concur. But the sound is, generally unexceptionable. It is, rather, a couple of musical issues that make one hesitate to award the laurels to the challenger; to take them, that is, from a much-admired and long-serving musical monarch.

First, the generally fine performance of the Eighth--in rather less blatant, more traditionally mellow sound than the Ninth, I seem to detect--is marred by a Finale which needs to "let its hair down" and indulge in some unbuttoned--inebriated, even--Slavische Tanze. When this movement usually drives relentlessly towards its dionysiac conclusion, I just cannot keep the hands and arms still.Reviewer's palsy, undoubtedly; but with Fischer, I remained sedately chair-bound! This is reflected in the timings: the difference between Szell's 9:03 and Fischer's 10:28 is far from inconsiderable. Apostate that I am, I was watching a DVD the other night and can report that a Karajan who looked--as indeed he was--only weeks from the yawning grave was able to manage affairs in 10:04 including some well-merited applause in the Musikverein.

Second, the Ninth--while boasting a Scherzo of incisive, biting force and a Finale whose Allegro is, for once, truly con fuoco--lands in trouble with the Largo. To these ears, the tempo repeatedly drags, sags and slows and then speeds up to compensate and save the day. Don't think that I take issue with slow tempos here: Fischer's 11:21 is faster than Szell's 12:10--and for that matter Reiner's 12:24 and Walter's 12:07. This is, after all, a Largo. But those other conductors are able to sustain, almost metronomically where necessary, where Fischer cannot. The point is driven home by Paavo Jarvi's Tring/Membran RPO performance: the timing here is an astonishing 15:23 but never has the attention wandering because his slow, even very slow, sections are internally consistent in pace and invariably slightly different in pulse (a la Bruckner). They contrast, then, very well with the broad maestoso brass interludes.

So when the gent on the Clapham omnibus--or the NYC subway--asks me whether he should put on to eBay his (shock! horror!) stereo-only, single-layer, non-DSD, geriatric Szell recording, and get the Fischer recording "like what all them smart coves has", then I'll unequivocally say "Don't Do It, Guv, You'll Only Regret It!"

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Works: 2  

Antonin Dvorak - Symphony No. 8 in G major, B. 163 Op. 88
Antonin Dvorak - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, B. 178 Op. 95 "From the New World"