Originally published on June 3
This wonderfully well-played and superbly recorded release – in memory of Václav Neumann (1920-95), closely associated with Leipzig, both the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Opera, and later with his native Czech Philharmonic – features a rare outing for the Symphony in D by Jan Václav Voříšek (1791-1825), a really fine piece which Herbert Blomstedt and the Gewandhaus members make their own: music that is quite Schubertian in the energetic yet elegant first movement, then dark if eloquent, and also dramatic, in the slow one, followed by a propulsive Scherzo and a rustic Trio (Blomstedt ensures the two are indivisible) and a vigorous Finale. It’s difficult to imagine this very likeable Symphony being better brought off than it is here.
In Czech company the only possible Mozart Symphony as companion is his ‘Prague’ (K504/No.38, also in D), which Blomstedt gives on the largest of scales with every repeat observed including the outer movements’ second halves (thirty-nine minutes in total, not a second too long) – enshrining a commanding slow introduction that leads to a zesty Allegro, then comes a sublime Andante (with short grace-notes) – (there’s no Minuet) – and a Finale that may not be the marked Presto but it is articulate, pointed, bubbly and dances with joy, the Leipzig musicians tireless during what is a longer journey than usual overall. Throughout, the attention given to expression, dynamics and detailing (first-movement bass pizzicatos really register) is of the highest order: superb; life-enhancing.
Accentus ACC30574 is released on June 17.
Czech Philharmonic/Neumann Mahler rehearsals