Classics Today France 10/10 May 2011; Klassik.com: First-rate Dvorák interpretation (May 2012).
With highly acclaimed releases of Smetana's Má Vlast and Josef Suk's 'Asrael' Symphony, Claus Peter Flor and his Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra have more than proved their credentials in this Central European repertoire: 'What a great piece, and what a great performance' wrote the reviewer on website Classics Today about 'Asrael', while his colleague on MusicWeb International felt that the orchestra in Má Vlast had 'an appropriately epic sweep and technicolor brilliance', dispatching the work 'with really striking dramatic flair.' As the undisputed heir to Smetana as front figure of a Czech national style, and as mentor and father-in-law to Suk, Dvořák is the logical next step for the team, who here perform the Seventh Symphony, by many regarded as the greatest of them all. With its strikingly sombre and impassioned tone – often said to reflect the composer’s sorrow at the death of his mother – it was an immediate success at the first performance in London 1885. This work is followed by two later single-movement orchestral pieces, for which Dvořák found inspiration in literary sources. The model for the concert overture Othello is of course Shakespeare's tragic hero, although the aim of the composer was to express the strongest possible human emotions in music, rather than creating a musical retelling of the drama itself. For Holoubek – the Wild Dove – Dvořák had recourse to an epic poem by the Czech poet Karel Erben, and this time he did include a programme based on the poem in the published score: a young widow is wooed by and marries a wealthy farmer, but when she hears the mournful cooing of a dove sitting in a tree by her first husband's grave she is overcome with remorse – she had in fact poisoned the man – and commits suicide.