Alsop Conducts Dvorak

Alsop conducts Dvorak 9

When Marin Alsop became the conductor of the Baltimore Symphony a couple of years ago, there was an amazing outcry on the part of some of the orchestra members: Seems they felt she was not qualified! Alsop was trained under Leonard Bernstein; in addition she was in charge of a major festival in California for many years… The whole thing took on a flavor of being sexist… In the end, Alsop held her ground, after issuing an ultimatum of sorts to the complaining members. Good for her!!

My guess is that all this is now in the “distant past”. And Marin Alsop has both concert performances and recordings to her on-going credits as leader of the Baltimore Symphony.

This is a fine disk – and it is the first of three Dvorak CD’s expected from this group. The CD contains a fine reading of Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations, which allows the listener to enjoy the melodies and the humor of the many aspects of this composition which is not often performed.

Then we hear one of the most famous of Dvorak’s works: His Symphony #9, “From the New World”. The slow introduction to the first movement begins simply, but with the entrance of the Tympani, the tension of the Allegro follows with playing full of energy and passion.
The slow movement is beautifully done. We hear the English Horn sing its famous tune. Alsop keeps the accompaniment to a minimum, thus allowing the great theme to really sing.

The beautiful scherzo is performed with high energy, and the Trio is suitably buoyant and fun. The finale follows almost without pause and we sense the tension and urgency, as Alsop keeps the momentum and strength of the music as it becomes more and more rhythmic.
What we have in this CD is a beautifully played masterpiece, full of warmth and light, played by first-class musicians, and captured by Naxos in superb stereo sound.

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