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Antonin Dvorák / Antonin Dvorák

Zdenek Mácal / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphonies No. 2 & No. 6 (Antonin Dvorák )

  • Type SACD hybrid
  • Label Exton
  • UPC 4526977050030
  • Catalog number EXCL 003
  • Release date 22 July 2011
Physical (SACD hybrid)

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About the album

Dvořák composed the first two of his nine symphonies in 1865, when he was sharing a crowded flat in central Prague and earning a meagre living as a violist in the orchestra of the Provisional Theatre. He entered the score of the First for a competition in Germany, and it was not returned (it resurfaced long after his death). So, as he later recalled, he “sat down and wrote another”. He composed this Second Symphony between August and early October 1865, and revised it shortly afterwards, though at that stage without any prospect of it being played. In 1887, by which time he had achieved a position of eminence in Czech musical life, he reworked it again, making numerous changes of detail and some cuts, in the hope of persuading his publisher Simrock to issue it. In this he was unsuccessful: the work was to reach print only in 1959, as part of the Dvořák complete edition. But he did secure a performance, in a concert conducted by Adolf Čech in the Rudolfinum in Prague in March 1888 – for which event he made yet more changes, including further cuts apparently pencilled into the score during rehearsals. These, marked as optional in the complete edition, are observed in this recording (and the long exposition repeat in the first movement is omitted).
…Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony dates from the years when the composer’s reputation was spreading rapidly from his native Bohemia to the rest of Europe and beyond. It was written in just seven weeks between August and October 1880, in response to a request from the great conductor Hans Richter for a work he could perform with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. But the planned Viennese premiere twice failed to materialise, apparently because of some anti-Czech feeling in the orchestra; the first performance was eventually given in Prague in March 1881, in a concert conducted by Adolf Čech in the concert hall on ofín Island. Richter nevertheless received the dedication of the work when it was published by Simrock at the end of the same year – becoming Dvořák’s first symphony to appear in print. Because of this rapid publication and the mature composer’s greater expertise, the work was not subjected to the same thoroughgoing revision as the early symphonies. But, as the editors of the Dvořák complete edition report, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra possesses a copy of the printed score in which Dvořák wrote at the end of the exposition of the first movement “Once and for all without repetition”: his instruction is followed in this recording…(excerpts from the CD linernote by Anthony Burton © 2011)  

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