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CD Review

Czech Masters

Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
Naxos 8.572698
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What's your favorite Dvořák symphony? If you said "the Sixth", you're either lying or have really good taste. I've seen both the 8th and 9th live in Detroit, and they are of course masterpieces that should be in every collection. But the sixth is a simply gorgeous creation that oozes lush sonorities. The first movement flows like water, the adagio is one of the master's great creations. The scherzo sounds a lot like the Slavonic Dances – a good thing, to be sure – and the final Allegro con spirito is a delight, lacking only the unforgettable tunes of the late symphonies. Taken as a whole, the piece is unbelievably great, and regrettably underrated.

The Janáček is Janáček that sounds like Dvořák. It's also a very fine piece, not one for the ages perhaps, but an entirely worthy filler and infinitely preferable to some Dvořák overtures or tone poems. Actually, between Schwarz and Wit, both on Naxos, Janáček has been served very well by the label these last few years. At nearly half an hour, the Idyll is substantial and effectively demonstrates the earlier influences in the composer's life. His work lacks the tunes of Dvořák, but the gifts are certainly there and overall it's simply gorgeous.

Schwarz and Seattle have been working together so long that you could make the mistake of taking them for granted. Yet the partnership has turned in some absolutely stunning work recently, and this is no exception. Strings are incredible, and Schwarz pays a great deal of attention to little details. If this review seems short, it is only so because there is so little to criticize. Essential.

Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman