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Dvořák: Symphonies Nos 7 & 8 (Philharmonia Zurich/Noseda)

Philharmonia Zurich/Gianandrea Noseda (Accentus Music)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Symphonies Nos 7 & 8
Philharmonia Zurich/Gianandrea Noseda
Accentus Music/Philharmonia Rec PHR 0113   77:44 mins


It takes a really outstanding performance to make you listen afresh to an over-familiar work. Such is the case with Gianandrea Noseda’s sparkling live account of Dvořák’s Eighth. The secret is not to over-interpret what is written down on the page, but allow the music to unfold with naturalness, spontaneity, brilliance and expressive sensitivity. This performance offers an abundance of all these elements.

Tempos throughout all four movements are almost ideal with a masterly control of rubato, and the orchestral response is incisive and committed, the Philharmonia Zurich’s wind players particularly relishing Dvořák’s bucolic writing with its frequent allusions to birdsong and other sounds of nature. Furthermore, Noseda and his orchestra seem unphased by the somewhat dry and unyielding acoustic of the Zurich Opera House, conjuring up a great deal of atmosphere in the wide-open spaces of the Adagio and securing a wonderfully warm string sound in the lilting waltz rhythms of the ensuing Scherzo.

In contrast, I was not quite so enamoured by Noseda’s interpretation of the Seventh Symphony. True, both the opening Allegro and the Scherzo are suitably weighty, with plenty of ferocity and power in the climaxes, and once again the orchestral playing is exemplary. But the more reflective passages, both here and in the slow movement, seem under-characterised in comparison with some of the other exceptional recordings of this work. Indeed, you have to wait until the Finale before this performance, also recorded live, really starts to take wing and deliver a level of urgency befitting of the darkest of all Dvořák’s symphonies.


Erik Levi