David's Review Corner
, May 2010
The name of Vaclav Talich and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra were inexorably linked for more than thirty years, the nation eternally grateful for his having put together the finest ensemble the nation had ever possessed. His appointment as the Chief Conductor in 1919 found the ensemble in poor shape, and it was through dedication and endless rehearsing that he fashioned an orchestra that could compare with any in Europe. There followed tours to many parts, but for Talich it was their autumn visits to London, where he could take the orchestra into the Abbey Road Studios to work with the fine HMV technicians, that were particularly important to him. On the 1938 visit he recorded both the Sixth and Seventh of Dvořák’s symphonies and two Suk pieces in just two days. Don’t expect great revelations, Talich seemingly in love with every note Dvořák composed, though he largely allowed the music to speak for itself. Yet he was working with an orchestra that had an inborn feel for the Czech lilt that propelled the music, the slower sections flowing with gentle beauty. Without the possibility of edits there are a few blemishes, but they matter little as these are benchmark readings. The sound of the strings is warm and round, the two qualities on which Suk’s E flat major Serenade thrives. The short Sokol March has never been released on LP or CD and is a rarity, though it did not find the Czech brass squeaky clean. For its venerable age the sound is extremely fine, even to ears seduced by the digital age. A treasure.