For the classical music lover on your holiday gift list, Part I
If you've got a classical music lover on your gift list this year, I've got some suggestions that might earn you an appreciative response. I'll be posting them over the next few days.
To start, how about something nice and local? There's a just-released recording by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop.
This one completes a Dvorak series for the Naxos label with a very appealing performance of the composer's Symphony No. 6.
Right from the start, it's a winner, as Alsop and the ensemble pull you gently, but firmly, into one of Dvorak's sunniest worlds.
This work doesn't get nearly the attention of the 7th, 8th and 9th symphonies, but it should. (Those pieces are on the BSO's first two Dvorak CDs.) The Sixth offers a feast of ingratiating melody and prismatic orchestration, qualities that Alsop brings out effectively.
Hallmarks of the music director's BSO tenure --
In addition to the Sixth, the album includes a beautifully shaded account of the Nocturne in B major and a vibrantly delivered Scherzo Capriccioso.
The BSO/Alsop Dvorak cycle has been quite successful, with many a plaudit in the musical press. I'd call this release the best of the set, with an extra glow in the orchestra's sound and an extra degree of spontaneity in the playing.