‘Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony’, wrote Bernard Shaw following a performance at the Crystal Palace in 1893, ‘is very nearly up to the level of a Rossini overture, and would make excellent promenade music at the summer fêtes out in the grounds.’ In advancing this view, Shaw turned on its head an essential quality of Dvořák’s music that only a few years earlier had been held out as one of its principal merits, with Eduard Hanslick for example, exclaiming euphorically in the early 1880s: ‘Let us rejoice that in our uncreative age – an age of reflected glories – we may still encounter as talented a composer as Dvořák, with his innocent emotions and cheerful creativity.’
Posterity has happily proved Shaw incorrect. While the Ninth Symphony ‘From the New World’ would rank near the top of any classical favourites list, the Seventh and Eighth aren’t far behind. The Third, written in 1873 when Dvořák was living in considerable poverty in Prague, having left a regular job as an orchestral violist in order to devote himself to composition, is still little known. In the Sixth Symphony, as in other works from this and the earlier period, Dvořák had paid tribute to his model, Brahms.
These sublime performances by the Vienna Philharmonic under Myung-Whun Chung received glowing critical acclaim at the time of their original release and are now coupled for this Eloquence release.
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 10
Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60
Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Executive Producers: John Fisher, Ewald Markl (Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7); Michael Fine, Ewald Markl (Symphonies Nos. 6 & 8)
Recording Producer: Lennart Dehn
Balance Engineers: Gernot von Schultzendorff (Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7); Rainer Maillard, Stephan Flock (Symphonies Nos. 6 & 8)
Recording Engineer: Jürgen Bulgrin
Editing: Mark Buecker (Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7); Stephan Flock (Symphonies Nos. 6 & 8)
Recording Location: Musikverein, Großer Saal, Vienna, Austria, February 1995 (Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7), April 1999 (Symphonies Nos. 6 & 8)
‘Myung-Whun Chung takes an affectionately fleet-of-foot view of the Third Symphony … Chung’s reading is notable for its newly minted freshness and intelligent sense of proportion … these wonderfully accomplished artists bring genuine fire and exhilarating spring to Dvořák’s vernal inspiration. … the Seventh is an interpretation of red-blooded fervor and rugged contrasts, whose dramatic impact is greatly heightened by the burnished glow of the VPO’s contribution, to say nothing of DG’s enormously ripe, close-knit sound. … Dvořák releases don’t come much more stimulating than this.’ (Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7) Gramophone, May 1997
‘Drawing playing of infectious eagerness and disarming poise from his distinguished band, Myung-Whun Chung directs an exhilaratingly purposeful and memorably fresh account of the Sixth. … DG’s sound is immensely ripe and full-bodied, this great orchestra’s burnished glow and mahogany-like timbre exceptionally well captured. … Music-making of abundant temperament and tingling spontaneity from Chung and a radiant and intense VPO’ (Symphonies Nos. 6 & 8) Gramophone, August 2000)