Dvořák: Symphony No 8 in G major, Op 88; Overture – Carnival, Op 92; Suk: Serenade for Strings in E flat major, Op 6

Reviewed on Tue 14 Jun, 2016

The Latvian maestro presides over an immaculately tailored, admirably trim account of Suk's adorable Serenade, but charm is in curiously short supply.

This is, by my reckoning, Mariss Jansons's third recording of Dvořák's Eighth Symphony. Expertly patched together from two concerts in Munich at the end of January 2016, it is, on the whole, a more spontaneous-sounding affair than either of its predecessors (with the Oslo PO and Royal Concertgebouw), but still rather too fussy, macho and masterful for my tastes, and the formidably sleek music-making seldom ignites the imagination the way that, say, Manfred Honeck's inspirationally intense Pittsburgh SO account does (Reference Recordings). Similarly, the present Carnival Overture (which closes the programme) strikes me as pleasingly dapper without raising the roof (try Kubelík with this same band on DG), and it's preceded by Suk's adorable Serenade, set down in the same venue (Philharmonie im Gasteig) under studio conditions just a few days earlier. Again, the Latvian maestro presides over an immaculately tailored, admirably trim account, but charm is in curiously short supply, and Suk's engagingly fresh-faced inspiration doesn't really smile or tug at the heartstrings the way it does under home-grown interpreters such as Talich, Josef Suk (the composer's grandson), Pešek or Bělohlávek. One for Jansons completists only, I think.
–Andrew Achenbach