Dvorak "New World" Symphony, "Carnaval" Overture
Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor
Price range: $32-255, mean $65 on popsike
Comments: As I mentioned in my previous blog on SAX 2275, EMI/Columbia released Dvorak's New World Symphony four times on the SAX series, and this was the second release. Whereas on Karajan's recording, the symphony is paired with Smetana's Moldau, here we get a lively version of the Carnaval Overture. Sawallisch and the Philharmonia give a strong performance of both the New World and the Carnaval Overture, playing with no less intensity than Karajan and the BPO, and in fact I felt that the Philharmonia played with just a little more fire at times. One thing I really liked about Sawallisch's interpretation is his transparent textures, which allowed me to hear and better appreciate the melodic lines of the winds. Whereas on some recordings, the opening measures of the third movement are slow and sloppy, here they are tight, quick, and disciplined. The timpani rolls are clearer and more visceral on this recording than on the Karajan. Sound overall is very good -- warm, dynamic, and clear. Worth a try if you are a fan of this symphony, and I think you should be able to land a clean copy for less than $50 if you look hard enough. If you're on the fence, check out the digital remaster, available both as an EMI budget line CD or more recently from Beulah (see below). Or stay tuned for upcoming comments on the third of the four New World recordings, this time conducted by Giulini with the Philharmonia.