Putting the swing into Dvořák‘s Sixth

Marin Alsop guides the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to a stately performance of Dvořák‘s sunny Symphony No. 6

Composer:  Dvořák
Repertoire: Symphony No. 6; Nocturne; Scherzo Capriccioso
Artists: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop Orchestral
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Naxos 8.570995

The Music: Dvořák owed much to Brahms, who encouraged him and introduced him to the publisher Simrock. And the sunny Sixth Symphony, composed in 1880, owes something to Brahms’s Second. It was commissioned by Hans Richter, who had conducted the first performance of the Brahms symphony three years earlier.

The Performance: From the syncopated opening to the mighty unison phrase at the end, Alsop judges the tempo of the first movement very well. The music rolls on like a broad river: stately, unhurried, always certain of its destination. It takes up a third of the duration of the symphony, because Alsop follows Dvořák’s repeat markings. In the furious Scherzo the exuberance of the Baltimore players transports you straight to a Bohemian meadow; the waltz tune in the Scherzo Capriccioso sounds equally authentic.

The Verdict: A fine addition to the cycle; the symphony really goes with a swing, and the fill-ups are equally well done. Want More? Try Alsop’s Brahms – specifically the Second Symphony with the LPO on Naxos (8.557429).