Symphony No. 8 & Jenufa/Dvorak/Janacek
July 14, 2014
REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-710SACD
“Do note, there was a printing mistake we’ve just noticed that appears in the printed press release, on the label of the disc and the back tray card of the package that incorrectly states that the Dvorak Symphony 8 is in E Minor. It is not, it’s a G Major.
We are correcting the error.”
Fresh from reviewing another RR recording, “The Banner Saga”/Austin Wintory I received in the mail a new recording from them, a live recording with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Along with a favorite of mine Dvorak’s 8th it included a work that was not familiar to me that being a Symphonic Suite from Jenufa, an opera, by Janacek which was arranged by the versatile conductor of the orchestra Manfred Honeck. Manfred re-orchestrated the suite from composer Tomas Ille.
It has been said that of the nine symphonies that Dvorak wrote the 8th is by far the most Czech sounding. It was written at a time when he closer to nature and the work certainly reflect this with the sounds early in the first movement (allegro con brio) mimicking the singing of a bird. This is just part of an extremely strong melody that begins in a rather mournful fashion but as the flute enters the crescendo begins and it becomes quite loud. A second theme is introduced one that is somewhat that is to somewhat share the spotlight with the main theme. The second movement is an Adagio a beautiful yearning theme that offers the bird songs but this time there from the woodwinds. It is a tranquil change of pace from the active upbeat of the first movement. Could this be a funeral march? You must judge for yourself. The third movement, the shortest of the four movements is an Allegretto, light and fluffy is the sound you’ll hear from the orchestra. The last movement, another Allegro, offers us a series of wonderful trills from the brass section so nicely recorded and brought to the to the foreground of the recording so that the listener will stop and take notice. Other recordings that I own of this symphony treat it as just a part of the orchestration.
Jenufa and the new arrangement from Honeck offer the addition of a xylophone (triangle used in the opera) which as described by Manfred as a connecting piece to the different emotions of sadness, drama, storminess, and the ending. I ponder how so very effective Janacek would have been as a film composer. Melodies and rhythm are a strong suit of this orchestral work that passes by all too quickly.
One of the keys to the success of this recording is the superior sound which you’ll best hear in SACD or at the very least on a moderate quality system. I happen to have a Sony dream machine which has a CD player and as the case many times I listened to the CD and the result was a very ordinary sounding recording. When I played it through my stereo system the result was nothing short of spectacular. Yes you’ll hear the occasional rustling of the papers and a stray cough but at least to me I didn’t find it distracting at all. It sounds very similar to being in Heinz Hall. The CD is available from Amazon or you can purchase direct from Reference Recordings. You won’t be disappointed. I understand that Reference has already recorded other CD’s with the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Dvorak Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 88
1. Allegro con brio (10:04)
2. Adagio (11:44)
3. Allegretto grazioso (6:03)
4. Allegro ma non troppo (11:06)
Janacek Symphonic Suite
5. Jenufa (22:57)
Total Time is 62:04