Something to listen to: Dvorak Symphony no. 8

Antonin Dvorak

Serious composer is serious

Roger Norrington is an idiot.

His little to no vibrato reputation precedes him everywhere he goes, from that BBC reality show with celebrities conducting to Stuttgart to the barber where he receives the finest fringe cut I’ve personally ever seen.  It seems to me that Norrington is the musical equivalent of being the one senator who believes that dinosaurs are a myth, or that Hurricane Katrina was God’s revenge for homosexuality, or that masturbating is adultery.

Whether it’s a result of this entire musical worldview, or simply because he tends to give a lot of thoughtless performances, Norrington is never very high on my list of anything other than conductor who looks most like the communications officer guy from Lost in 25 years:

 

Lost

Is there vibrato on the island?

But as Sidney Deane tells us in White Men Can’t Jump: “The sun shines on a dog’s ass some days.  Anyone can win the lottery.”

So it is with Sir Roger.  This performance of Dvorak’s 8th Symphony is a top-notch effort.  Norrington really extracts a lot of details from the score, but never at the expense of pace and forward motion.  This is one of those performances that feels faster than it is, which is a credit to Norrington’s ability to generate musical momentum.  The playing of the RSO Stuttgart is phenomenal, which is not surprising.  Yes, the lack of vibrato is grating the way it is in every Norrington performance, but the strings still get a rich, warm sound.  If I had one word to describe this performance, it would be “crispy.”  If I had one sentence to describe it, it would be “Mark Whiten once had 4 home runs and 12 RBI in a single game and was never heard from again.”

Enjoy this performance, and hope that martians don’t hear it, return to their home planet, and spread the word that they have heard this strange earthling creation called music, and it’s leader, Roger Norrington, shall be head of the Intergalaxy Philharmonic once the alien colonization is complete.

Antonin Dvorak: Symphony no. 8

RSO Stuttgart SWR
Roger Norrington, conductor
Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
1 October 2010

Thanks to Titurel2003 for the great recording.

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