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Dvorak: Symphonies 6 & 9 - Ančerl

Dvorak: Symphonies 6 & 9 - Ančerl

Columbia x Tower Records  TWSA-1047/8 (2 discs)

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Dvorak: Symphonies 6 & 9

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Karel Ančerl (conductor)

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Comment by Tony Reif - February 12, 2019 (1 of 1)

This is the last of the 4 Ancerls I've purchased. It probably goes without saying that the performances are excellent, and the recordings allow you to pretty clearly hear what's going on in the different sections, with a fairly close perspective giving decent detail in general. In the Brahmsian 6th symphony (1966), for example, the winds sound their voluble and piquant selves, and the drums are properly assertive and martial. The strings, unfortunately, are another matter. In the New World (1961) in particular they sound bright and thin, and the Dvorak Hall's huge ambiance is very prominent without sounding quite integrated. It just isn't very natural. I don't want to make too much of this, a lot will depend on your system, but on the Stax 009s (which tend to sound just a bit bright and lean anyway) the balance is not very enjoyable. The 6th is a little less edgy and reverberant, with maybe slightly more foundation in the lower mids and bass, but still not what I'd consider balanced. The symphonies were recorded by Frantisek Burda, the overtures (1961-62) by Miroslav Kulhan, and their micing and live balances reveal subtly different sensibilities, with Kulhan giving somewhat more prominence to the cellos and basses and looking for ways to use hall reverberation to create a deeper, more coherent soundstage (check out "Othello" in particular). Maybe the differences aren't huge, but results for me are more sensuous and immersive. As a comparison I listened to Kubelik's beautiful 6 and 9 (1972) from the Tower SACD box. What a contrast! Where Ancerl is keenly aware of maintaining forward momentum (not to say that allegros are rushed or slow movements aren't relaxed and poetic), Kubelik uses more rubato to mould the music, and every movement is longer (the 6th's finale by almost 2 minutes). Ancerl really brings out the folk-like elements of the New World, and the rawer sound contributes to this, while the DG engineer, Heinz Wildhagen, gives Kubelik a mid-hall perspective in both symphonies. The result is sumptuous and (dare I say?) Germanic - a massive, weighty, blended symphonic whole, with the winds and brass almost enveloped by the strings. It's well done and it seems to suit Kubelik's conception, emphasizing smoothness and the sheer loveliness of the BPO's playing, but personally I prefer a more immediate, up-front sound, and it seems that's how the CPO was always recorded in those days. This wasn't so obvious in the Ancerl Gold Edition, which smoothed over the rough edges and toned down the highs (the result of EQ and/or CEDAR noise reduction plus apparently in some cases at least digital reverb via the Lexicon 480L).