Dvořák: Symphony No 1 in C minor, Op 3 (The Bells of Zlonice); Rhapsody, Op 14

Reviewed on Tue 02 Jun, 2015

Dvořák’s The Bells of Zlonice, pealed out by the horns at the symphony’s opening, is an impressively expansive and ambitious piece, with a nice line in drama and lyricism. If hardly Dvořák’s greatest music, it is nevertheless stirring, poetically affecting and suggests a vivid narrative. Karel Mark Chichon has much sympathy for this work, both its invention and detail, and secures a performance that is thrilling and beguiling (although leaving out the exposition repeat rather foreshortens the first movement in relation to what follows). Chichon isn’t one to indulge this score, and some nifty tempos in the scherzo and finale are well judged, so too their perky rhythms and felicities of orchestration. The Rhapsody isn’t vintage Dvořák either, but as so often with this composer, there is disarming insouciant warmth present, and some smile-inducing bombastic over-scoring (Dvořák in Liszt mode!). The recording, naturally balanced and dynamic, supports fully the performers’ dedication.
–Colin Anderson