The slightly unlikely teaming up Vernon Handley with the Ulster Orchestra in 1985 to record some lesser, relatively rare Dvorak in the Ulster Hall produced very attractive results. The acoustic of the hall is flattering and the Northern Irish orchestra seems surprisingly idiomatic, with its tangy woodwind and confident horns. Handley takes a relaxed approach to Dvorak's bucolic charm but is also able to generate a tension and ebullience - sometimes reminiscent of Berlioz - without becoming frenetic.
By far the most familiar piece here is the "Carnival", but it is good to hear it within its proper context as the middle movement of the symphonic overture sequence of three, Op.91, 92 and 93, representing Nature, Life and Love and all beginning with the same motto or theme. The opening piece is typically melodic and insouciant in its evocation of the Bohemian countryside and there are echoes of "Rusalka" in the third, melodramatic overture, "Othello", even if it hardly rises to tragedy. The grander, larger-scale and altogether more jovial Scherzo Capriccioso forms a fitting conclusion to a satisfying, if occasionally little light-weight, programme which is rather short-measure at only 53 minutes.