Dvorák: Symphony No 6, American Suite Op 96b CD review – warm, subtle, pin-sharp

Lucerne Symphony Orchestra/Gaffigan
(Harmonia Mundi)

Dvorák’s Sixth Symphony (1880), with its cross-rhythm “Furiant” Scherzo and soaring melodies, was written for Vienna but is as richly and distinctively Slavonic as anything the composer wrote. It has a tender inner spirit and benign fervour – deliciously explored here in a warm, subtle performance delivered with pin-sharp exactitude. If the opening bars sound like a tribute to the Symphony No 2 of Dvorák’s friend Brahms, the work unfolds with a style and imprint that could only be Dvorák’s. Originally for piano, the American Suite (1894), weaving New World jazziness with old Bohemian folk, is buoyant and wistful in this orchestral version, full of those sliding key shifts Dvorák loved. Switzerland’s oldest orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan make a beguiling, expert team.


Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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