Dvořák: Legends, Op 59; Symphony No 8 in G major, Op 88

Reviewed on Thu 19 Mar, 2015

José Serebrier's account of the 10 Legends (originally written for piano duet) is an idiomatic treat, brimful of flexibility, innocent wonder and beaming affection. Just listen to the magical way he caresses those piercingly expressive harmonies in the central section of No 6 in C sharp minor – heady stuff and conducting of an altogether treasurable order rarely encountered in this day and age. What's more, the Bournemouth band are with the canny Uruguayan maestro every step of the way, their contribution minutely responsive and irreproachably stylish. The performance of the Eighth Symphony is very nearly as convincing. Again, one could hardly fail to be struck by the intrepid character, textural clarity and combustible ardour on show. Conversely, the finale is not without the occasional laboured, self-conscious gesture, while the performance as a whole is neither as imaginatively inspired nor as splendiferously engineered as Manfred Honeck's majestic live Pittsburgh SO version on Reference Recordings (reviewed on 29 October 2014). Still, don't let my marginal reservations put you off investigating this fifth volume in Serebrier's Dvořák cycle for Warner Classics – and roll on Symphonies Nos 1, 4 and 5 to complete this rewarding enterprise!
–Andrew Achenbach