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There is no doubt that Dvorák's symphonies are a sheer delight, full of apparent optimism, even in the minor keys, and these performances under Belohlávek, the BBC's Chief Conductor since last July, are as vigorous and vital as they should be. It is a pity that his final symphony (9 -- the 'New World') has been so overplayed that the real 5 and 6 have suffered such undeserved neglect for, although there are shades of Brahms and even Beethoven about them, they are what we most admired about the composer, colourfully nationalistic with broad melodies and characteristic harmonic shifts.

No 5 begins with an uplifting dawn awakening [listen -- CD 1 track 1, 0:01-1:08] -- and after an amorous adagio and a light Czech scherzo, a finale which opens in A minor and takes about 60 bars to find its home key of F -- the sort of tonal excitement that doesn't require perfect pitch to appreciate [listen -- CD 1 track 4, 0:01-1:43].

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Copyright © 28 July 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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