Emmanuel Krivine conducts the Orchestre National de France in Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No.8 in G major, Op.88, a work rollicking character inspired by the folk music of Bohemia. The concert was recorded at Maison de la Radio, Paris, on October 18, 2018.
Antonín Dvořák had been embarrassed when mature works were issued as early ones, while his nationalism had been offended by the persistent Germanizing of his first name as "Anton". In 1889, no longer a naïf provincial, Dvořák chose to interpret the offer of 1,000 Deutschmarks – 5,000 less than he had paid for the instantly popular Seventh – as publisher Fritz Simrock's first right of refusal, and sold his new Eighth to the British firm of Novello, who published it as No.4. Novello considered it a privilege to buy the work; Simrock never repeated his mistake.
When Cambridge University honored Dvořák as a Doctor of Music in 1892, he submitted the Eighth Symphony as his obligatory "exercise". Thus it came to be called the "English" Symphony for many years, despite its obvious Czech grammar and diction – Dvořák's declaration of independence, in fact, from Germanic influences in the first seven symphonies.
Dvořák united all four sections of the Eighth with a rising three-note figure, first heard in the opening measure of the opening movement; from this come the main themes there and in the finale. The work abounds in structural symmetries and subtleties, which reveal themselves once one becomes familiar with its charming Czech-rooted melodies and rhythms. Organization of this caliber is the handiwork of a master composer in complete control of what he wants to say and how to say it.
A melody in G minor, which returns later on before the development section and again (albeit altered in mood) before the recapitulation, is introduced in the Allegro con brio before G major arrives with the main theme, bird-like in character as played on the flute. Dvorák moves to E major for a gently contrasting second theme, then to B minor for a march-like third subject; but G major prevails at the end.
In the Adagio, duple meter replaces common time, while the key of C replaces G (C being the dominant of G). An ABAB structure begins quietly in C minor, but metamorphoses in the repeated sections suggest a variation-pattern with a wistful character.
Dvořák shocked purists by writing an Allegretto grazioso waltz movement, as Tchaikovsky had done in his Fifth Symphony a year earlier. It is, however, unmistakably a Slavonic waltz in G minor, whose G major trio lends itself even less to ballroom dancing, yet is a dance. After a repeat of the song section, a fast coda in 2/4 time sets up both the meter and the key of the finale.
Beethoven might have applauded Dvořák's theme and variations structure within a song and trio frame of the final Allegro ma non troppo. Following a trumpet fanfare, a two-part theme emerges whose halves are repeated, then four variations, all in G major. The trio is a three-part march in C minor, after which the fanfare returns with four more variations in tow.
Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
♪ Symphony No.8 in G major, Op.88 (1889)
i. Allegro con brio
iii. Allegretto grazioso – Molto Vivace
iv. Allegro ma non troppo
Orchestre National de France
Conductor: Emmanuel Krivine
Maison de la Radio, Paris, October 18, 2018
Emmanuel Krivine is respected as one of the world's most distinguished conductors whose elegant and colourful interpretations have made him a favourite with leading orchestras and soloists around the world. Regarded as one of the foremost French musicians today, Krivine has held a number of important positions in France and in September 2017 takes up the post of Music Director of the Orchestre National de France, the orchestra's first French Music Director in over 40 years.
Emmanuel Krivine has conducted the world's finest orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. He has worked with the Sydney, Melbourne and NHK Symphony Orchestras and, in North America, he has conducted the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he debuted in 2016-2017, now returning each season. A passion for working with chamber orchestras has led to tours with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and he took up the post of Principal Guest Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2015.
Krivine and the Orchestre National de France recently marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Claude Debussy with concerts around France and Switzerland including at the Festival de Pâques, Aix-en-Provence, the Settimane Musicali di Ascona, Les Grands Interprètes Toulouse, working with top soloists including Martha Argerich, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Renaud Capuçon, Francesco Piemontesi and Maxim Vengerov. Their recording of La Mer and Images was released in May 2018.
He is a passionate educator, who regularly conducts orchestras of young musicians, and in 2004 he created a period-instrument ensemble, La Chambre Philharmonique, recognised as one of the most important groups of its kind, which has gained recognition with its award-winning recordings on Naïve; these included most recently a complete set of Beethoven symphonies, awarded Editor's Choice by Gramophone. His discography also includes recordings with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Maria João Pires, London Symphony Orchestra with Vadim Repin, and the Orchestre National de Lyon, released on labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Erato and Naïve.
Emmanuel Krivine was born in 1947 in Grenoble, from Russian descent through his father and Polish through his mother, and began his career as a violinist. He was awarded the Premier Prix of the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 16 and became a scholar at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Belgium, studying with Henryk Szeryng and Yehudi Menuhin, and winning many prestigious awards. After a decisive meeting with Karl Böhm in 1965, he increasingly devoted himself to conducting. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France from 1976 until 1983, and then became Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon from 1987 until 2000. He also served as Music Director of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes for eleven years between 1984 and 2004, as Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg from 2006 to 2014 and more recently as Principal Guest Conductor of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.
Antonín Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor – Bruno Philippe, Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, Stéphane Denève (HD 1080p)
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No.9 in E minor "From the New World" – New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert (HD 1080p)
Antonín Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor – Leonard Elschenbroich, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Ken-David Masur
Antonín Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor – Daniel Müller-Schott, Danmarks Radio SymfoniOrkestret, Dmitrij Kitajenko