Dvořák: Symphony No 6 in D major, Op 60; Suite in A major, Op 98a (American)

Reviewed on Wed 22 Oct, 2014

Dvořák 6 is a masterpiece, outgoing, exhilarating and soulful, abundant in song and dance. It may not yet be a favourite in the way that his three subsequent numbered symphonies are, but it can’t be long: it is such delectable music. My yardstick is Rafael Kubelík’s Berlin recording on DG (not everyone will agree); István Kertész (Decca) does it proud too, and Jiří Bělohlávek's recent version with the Czech Philharmonic (complete symphonies, Decca, reviewed on 17 September 2014) is also notable. James Gaffigan is to be reckoned with, leading an intense performance of affection, character, shining lyricism and rustic vitality. Perhaps his otherwise admirable orchestra might be a little more numerous in the strings, but this bright-eyed, eloquently turned reading has much going for it (and, hooray, the first-movement exposition repeat is observed, something Kubelík and Bělohlávek fall down on). Creditably paced and phrased, there is much to relish. The five-movement American Suite is charming, easefully tuneful, enlivening and local-colour suggestive.
–Colin Anderson