The Houston Symphony’s New Dvorak Recording

Here’s a sample of the Houston Symphony’s new Dvorak recording, released last Friday. The album, which pairs Dvorak’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, is music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada’s inaugural recording with the orchestra. It’s the first in a series of Houston Symphony Dvorak disks on the Dutch-based Pentatone label. A May 1 release will include Symphony No. 6 and later in the year the series will conclude with Symphony No. 9. Dvorak’s bubbly Czech-folk-inspired Slavonic Dances fill out both CDs.

In terms of temperament, Dvorak’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies are polar opposites. The Seventh opens in a darkly ominous D minor, which the Symphony never quite escapes (listen to the fiery final bars of the last movement). The first movement’s sombre opening statement develops motivically in ways that might occasionally remind you of Brahms’ symphonies. Listen to the way this motivic seed, first heard quietly in the opening of the movement, grows in intensity as it undergoes almost obsessive development.

By contrast, the Eighth Symphony (in G major) is full of Bohemian melodies, birdsongs, and a dance-like spirit. At moments, there’s a hint of the lonely nostalgia which resurfaces in the Ninth Symphony. The Houston Symphony plays with a velvety, blended warmth, but there’s also a sense of clarity that allows every voice to be heard. For example, listen to the flute in this passage in the first movement and the cello pizzicati at this moment in the second movement.

Here is the first movement:

  • Find this recording at iTunes, Amazon
  • an interview with Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Houston Symphony Music Director

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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