Pietari Inkinen conducts Dvořák

If this coupling appeals, hesitate not

Pietari Inkinen conducts Dvořák

The Deutsche Radio Phlharmonie is a new orchestra for me. Based in the radio studios of both Kaiserlautern and Saarbrücken in Germany, it is clearly a fine ensemble, and Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen clearly brings out the best in them; he has been chief conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie since 2017 (and Music Director of the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul since 2022). Orchestras he has conducted include the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

As to my own experience, I enjoyed Pietari Inkinen's interpretation of Mahler's Third Symphony at the Cadogan Hall in London in November 2019; and I enjoy these readings of two Dvořák symphonies very much also. The music flows beautifully, and the German orchestra is well disciplined and held in a fine recording, too.

Although the two symphonies are contiguous, they are very different in terms of feel. The Symphony No. 7 in D minor is Brahmsian in its rigour, something Inkinen realises from the off. The first movement is fiery yet beautifully structured; and the orchestra is really well disciplined, something that pays huge dividends in the tautness of the rhythms of the fiery Scherzo that follows. This is one of the most exciting accounts of that movement, the woodwind of the Trio providing only momentary relief. There is dark lyricism, too, in the Adagio, a superbly felt reading where that careful approach to balance and tuning goes hand in hand with Innigkeit. String sound lovely without gong towards the overly luscious; woodwind sing. Nowhere in the symphony is as Brahmsian (think the laker corners of the First Symphony) as the opening often finale, and here it emerges beautifully and brilliantly, the close positively ablaze.

This performance on SWR Music was recorded on 27-30 September, 2021; here's a video of a complete performance from December 12 that year by these forces:

Pietari Inkinen

The Eighth Symphony could hardly be in greater contrast: the warmth exuded by the long phrases of its opening, the change from D-Minor to G-Major, all conspire to create a very different experience indeed.

The SWR orchestra is like a chameleon: melodies sing, drama strides out into bright sunshine. They are fresh and often exultant, and always well disciplined, The slow movement pitches drama against the most delicious pastoralism. The composer juxtaposes sections against each other here, with the overall impressions the true beauty. And how the SW string s deliver sonic beauty - without over-egging the pudding.

When angst arrives, it does so with bullet-like, hard-stick timpani attacks that are so arresting. The Scherzo is the perfect balance, free-flow, textures lean. Trumpet calls announce the finale, bracing and bright here.While the finale of the Seventh is a furiant, we have a set of variations.for the Eighth (n a variations-sonata hybrid form). Inkinen finds the perfect balance between gesture and accuracy in this movement.

The recording is excellent throughout; while there are catalogue classics of both symphony galore, this one now takes a special place, and if this coupling appeals, hesitate not.

As a bonus (given the paucity of YouTube videos for the SWR disc), here's a bonus: Inkinen conducting this orchestra in the same composer's lovely tone poem, The Wood Dove (Waldtaube, in German, Holoubek in Czech):

This disc is available via Amazon here (at 15% off at the time of writing), this is a lovely addition to anyone's collection. In addition, if you're in the neighbourhood (Classical Explorer has a very International readership!) Inkinen directs two concerts with this orchestra in April, both featuring the great cellist Mischa Maisky in Shostakovich's Cello concerto No. 1: In Saarbrücken, Karlsruhe and Ludwigsburg on April 12-14, it is heard with Mussorgsky and Beethoven (Seventh); in Kaiserlautern on the 19th, Zemlinsky (the Waltz Interlude from Kinder machine Leute, arranged by Ronald Kornfeil) and Beethoven (Seventh again) are on the menu.

... and as a point of interest for those who love Dvořák, medici.tv has just-loaded, for a limited time Herbert von Karajan's performance of the Ninth Symphony with teh Wiener Philharmoniker from the Musikverein in Vienna. This is the one that was a Telemondial production and that name will tell many what they need to know: lots of camera attention for HvK for this very upholstered, beautiful performance - listen to the brass at he beginning of the famous Lento! The stream is available until April 22, 2024.