There's no such thing as a "definitive" recording, but if there were, this one would come close to that imagined ideal. Its special qualities haven't dimmed a bit in the four decades since it was recorded, and every interpretive decision comes across with the inevitability of fate itself… If you don't own this performance in some form, then you don't know the "New World". –David Hurwitz
This is Nikolaus Harnoncourt's best Dvorak so far, and one of the great recordings of the "New World" Symphony. Comparing it to the recent Abbado/Berlin recording on Deutsche Grammophon is instructive. Where Abbado is leaden, boring, and totally lacking in imagination and vitality, Harnoncourt offers bright colors, sprung rhythms, and an orchestra that plays with total commitment, on the edge of its collective seat. Listen to the thrust Harnoncourt gives the opening of the finale, to the gorgeous woodwind playing in a largo that is really slow yet never motionless or slack, or to the toe-tapping lilt he injects into the Scherzo's dance rhythms! Harnoncourt's care for detail uncovers fresh sounds everywhere, from the incredibly clear string figurations in large stretches of the first movement, to the single swish of cymbals in the finale and the gorgeous fade-away of the final chord.
The performance of The Water Goblin is no less gripping. Again, Harnoncourt takes great care with the percussion parts–the best in this department since Kubelik–clearly relishing the music's narrative aspects. When the Water Goblin thumps (via the bass drum) on the door of his (unwilling) wife's house, demanding her return, you can feel the room shake. He infuses the lyrical themes representing the girl and her mother with great passion and nostalgia, while the Goblin's tunes radiate malice and spite thanks to some magnificent wind playing. Harnoncourt and the orchestra sound as though they're having the time of their lives, like great narrators relishing a good ghost story over a campfire at night. Glorious sonics too, deep and rich. If you love Dvorák, you've just got to hear this.David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com
Eugene Ormandy recorded the New World Symphony many times, though this recording is special in that it features the London Symphony Orchestra rather than the Philadelphia Orchestra. Maybe that accounts for the extra edge of excitement, for this is without question one of the great recordings of the piece. It's coupled with a warmly appealing performance of the Serenade for Strings, and at budget price this recording is an easy recommendation. --David Hurwitz
"…There are a lot of "New World" recordings but Jansons is surely competitive with the great ones with Fischer, Kondrasjin, Harnoncourt en Kubelik. This CD is a jewel both in the freshness of the playing and in the clearness of the recording. My favorite!" ~sa-cd.net
Superb orchestra playing, hear these woodwinds. Conductor and orchestra seems to be very happy with each other. There are a lot of "New World" recordings but Jansons is surely competitive with the great ones with Fischer, Kondrasjin, Harnoncourt en Kubelik. This CD is a jewel both in the freshness of the playing and in the clearness of the recording. …