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Reviews: Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, Novak: Slovak Suite - Macal

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Reviews: 2

Site review by akiralx August 8, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
There is no shortage of fine New Worlds on SACD, but I'm not sure this one is quite among them. The performance is very well played and recorded, but Macal's interpretation is rather plain.

Some may enjoy the directness of his approach, which is miles away from the very interventionist performances by conductors like Fricsay on DG. But there is precious little ebb and flow here, particularly in the first two movements. Macal takes the repeat in the opening movement but conductors like Jansons on SACD and Kubelik (on Orfeo over DG for preference) really bring more drive to the music - it's surely significant that theirs are live performances.

A similar story emerges in the Largo - the cor anglais solo is fairly direct, and there seems to be a lack of chiaroscuro, indeed a lack of pianissimi generally. The movement flows by without really engaging the listener.

Things improve dramatically in the last two movement with exciting playing - but when Dvorak masterfully draws together the threads before the finale's coda it takes a peculiar type of conductor not to relax slightly (Abbado on DG does it superbly), but Macal chooses not to and presses on strictly 'a tempo'.

On SACD I prefer Jansons' exciting but idiomatic performance to Fischer's recording, despite the miraculously good coupling of the latter (the Eighth Symphony) which alone makes that disc worth buying.

The half hour Slovak Suite in five named movements is an engaging work (here recorded live) but I don't really subscribe to the view that it's a forgotten masterpiece, despite the felicitous scoring in the 'In Church' and 'Two in Love' movements. Still, it's well played here and makes a good impression.

Site review by Polly Nomial January 27, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:  
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