Superb performances of Dvorak, Mussorgsky, and Smetana
L. Johan Modée | Earth | 11/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Occasionally, as a collector, you may come across old recordings that strike you as nothing but amazing, while being completely ignored or critized by the professional reviewers.
The present CD is a case of this. Musicweb reviewed it in 2002, but they didn't take it to be a "buried treasure". By contrast, I do.
This is a 1958 Lugano recording of Karel Ancerl conducting the Czech Philharmonic on tour. It's a live performace. The programme is as follows:
1. B. Smetana, Ouverture to The Barterned Bride.
2. A. Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 in E minor.
3. M. Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel), Pictures at an Exhibition.
All these works are getting riveting, explosive but at the same time perfectly consistent interpretations, which strike me as more or less unsurpassed. The sound from the mono recording is also outstanding, with a lot of detail, depth and presence. The orchestral playing is second to none.
Now there are other Ancerl recordings of these works, i.e.,
Smetana: Ancerl Gold Edition 29: Famous Overtures (WEBER, SHOSTAKOVICH, MOZART, BEETHOVEN, WAGNER, SMETANA, GLINKA, BERLIOZ, ROSSINI).
Dvorak: Dvorak: Symphony no. 9.
Mussorgsky: Ancerl Gold Edition 4: Pictures at an Exhibition.
These studio performances are also outstanding, and belong to every collection. But the 1958 Lugano adds the extra frisson of a live performance, which sometimes makes a great difference even with an excellent orchestra. The present recording is such a case. There are no dull moments here, every note sparkle and shine. So this is a recording to return to, many times. In particular, I take the present performance of Dvorak 9 to be ranked among the very best on record.