Slavonic Dances (complete)
Opp.46 & 72
Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Ivan Fischer
Reviewed by: Robin Sylvester
Reviewed: March 2002
CD No: PHILIPS 464 601-2
Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances were originally composed for piano, four hands. His brilliant and characteristically discerning orchestrations have brought these two sets, of eight Dances each, to a wide public as some of the most popular orchestral music ever written.
Ivan Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra have been making a fine reputation for their Dvorak recordings for Philips. Following excellent accounts of the Legends and Symphonies 8 and 9 (the latter ’From the New World’), Fischer once again brings a light touch to this nationalistic music, which is fiery, lyrical, exciting and touching. High spirits mingle with depth of expression as Dvorak celebrates Bohemia’s culture. Fischer conducts lively and pointed renditions, which are not rushed, over-accented or unduly brash. In refusing to linger, Fischer sometimes misses out on the personal side of the music, Dvorak’s intense declaration when the Dances’ popular roots is transcended, but Fischer achieves spontaneous and idiomatically inflected versions of this ever-delightful music. Throughout, lucid balances and attention to details often overlooked in other performances is the order of the day; the use of antiphonal violins further assists balance, transparency and internal dialogue.
That said, although the sound quality is good, Fischer’s work is hampered a little by too resonant an acoustic. Detail is clear because Fischer has made a point of bringing out things that are usually covered. The reverberation is just a little too long, which sometimes works against Fischer’s lithe balances and makes the sound a little too thick, especially in the bass. Although the sound is lively it is a little bright in the treble, which tends to attenuate Dvorak’s cymbal and triangle scoring.
If occasionally Fischer can be too deliberate or too flexible, the affection and style that he and his orchestra have for this music is palpable and makes for very enjoyable listening.