Dvorak Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 ($.99 special)

December 22, 2014

dvorak 8 001

ASV CD QS 6006

Third movement: Allegretto grazioso

At one time this symphony (old #4) was given the name ‘English’ the reason being it was given its premiere performance in England. Nothing could be further from the truth as this work like the majority of his work has a Czech sound. Dvorak used folk songs from his native country as a starting point for many of his works. This third piece in the series of $.99 specials I acquired at a thrift store is a good one as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was firing on all cylinders for this recording. I have far too many recordings of this work in my collection but I would rank this one near the top. The drawback is the recording. We have to keep in mind that this recording came from 1985 therefore it was an early on CD recording. The higher end has a haze to it like it wants to break through the clouds and burst out with a greater dynamic range but alas it doesn’t happen. The real 5 star part of this recording comes from the brass section in the fourth movement where they make their presence known with beautiful fanfares. I’ve never heard better in the recordings I have. The first movement begins with a somber melody lulling you into thinking that this might be an andante with the relaxing melody with a bird like flute. The tempo changes as does the melody and a second theme a lot livelier enters and we now have a true allegro. The two themes are used back and forth for the rest of the movement.  The second movement is a slow paced adagio that offers a single theme that is played different ways from heroic to soft and tranquil. The third  movement is a smooth flowing dance that is uplifting, delicate, and a good example of the writing of Dvorak. I’ve included this as an audio clip.

“Carnival Overture,” was a series of three overtures that Dvorak wrote in the 1893 with the concept of having them performed as a single work. The Carnival was the middle selection with the other two being “In Nature’s Realm” and the final piece being “Othello.”  The description of the title is quite appropriate as this is a lively upbeat work with an atmosphere of  hustle and bustle. It has one of those very brisk loud endings which is an excellent summing up of the work.

Overall this was definitely a nice find for $.99.

Track Listing:

1. Allegro con brio (10:28)

2. Adagio (10:41)

3. Allegretto grazioso (6:08)

4. Allegro ma non troppo (9:51)

5. Carnival Overture Op. 92 (9:30)

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