Dvorák: Symphonies Nos 7 and 8 – Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sir Roger Norrington
Roger Norrington’s journey through the romantic symphony continues with two popular scores from the pen of Antonín Dvorák. Dvorák began work on the Seventh Symphony on 13 December 1884, after having heard a performance of the new, Third Symphony of his friend Brahms. It is the most typically romantic symphony Dvorák wrote, anticipating Brahms’s own Fourth Symphony (which would premiere six months later) in its form, scope, and sense of heroic tragedy. Apart from manifesting the Brahmsian influence, the new symphony by Dvorák would also be an expression of his profound nationalism. The composer wrote to one of his friends: ‘I am now busy with this symphony for London, and wherever I go I can think of nothing else. God grant that this Czech music will move the world!’ Four years later, Dvorák would turn once again to the symphonic form, writing his Eighth Symphony in the space of two-and-a-half months, from 26 August to 8 November 1889. Not stormily romantic as is its predecessor, the Eighth Symphony is cheery and draws its inspiration more from the Bohemian folk music which Dvorák loved. Both works provide Norrington and his SWR ensemble with ample opportunities to express their unflagging virtuosity (note especially the brass section, which is given a thorough work-out!).