Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Classics: From bucolic depths to blazing glory: Dvořák's Symphony No. 8


The finale of the Dvořák Eighth Symphony is played by the University of Suwon Symphony Orchestra under Piotr Borkowski at the Seoul Arts Center, October 2005.

by Ken

In last night's preview, I proposed Dvořák's Eighth Symphony as one of that category of pieces that build to such a rousing finale that the music, despite its uniformly high quality, tends to seem like a preparation for it, and offered the examples of Beethoven's Egmont Overture and, on the symphonic scale, Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, which culminates in an even more blazing blaze of glory. One obvious difference is that the Tchaikovsky Fourth begins about as dramatically full-throatedly as a symphony can:

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded Jan. 28, 1959

Whereas the Dvořák Eighth begins . . . well, we'll hear in just a moment in the click-through.

I have to say that, having now written the portion of this post you'll find in the click-through, I find that I haven't devoted any more attention to the finale than to the other three movements. Indeed, partly because of the quality of the two performances we'll be hearing, I'm inclined to think that the gorgeous Adagio is going to walk off with the post.

My first thought is, hmm, if only I'd had one of those Karajan recordings handy! But of course the enforced deemphasis of the finale is in fact a good thing. As I was suggesting last night, Dvořák worked awfully hard to make the musical results sound so simple and straightforward, and listening to a piece like the Eighth Symphony, I find it hard not to be struck by both the diversity and the extraordinarily uniform quality of the component parts.


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At 4:20 PM, Anonymous robert dagg murphy said...

Ken: We had the grand opening of our world class symphony and fine arts hall, The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, in Kansas City last night. The building and acoustics are astounding.

I Hope you and other music lovers can come this way soon to hear and see this wonderful new instrument. It is a remarkable achievement to pull the resources together to make this happen. Combine this with our beautiful and recently improved Nelson Gallery of Art Kansas City has a fine arts one two punch few other medium sized cities have achieved.

At 5:36 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Hey, Robert, great news! Thanks for sharing it. I hope lots of people will be inspired to check out the new facility, and I'll certainly put it on my list. So everything's up to date in Kansas City, eh? (Sorry, I couldn't resist. Well, I probably COULD have, I just didn't.)

Unfortunately for my personal case, places and events that happen outside the service area of New York City Transit are usually beyond my travel range.



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