The Karl Ancerl/Czech Phil version turns out to be even better than I thought when I first heard it. Now that I have (finally!) developed an empirical method for finding/setting VTA (accompanied by cooler weather!), I was rewarded today by play even more advanced in many more ways. How joyous to "mine" great performances of great music!
One thing that was really clear today was KA's sensitivity to and control over texture, which he gets by minutely bringing up and/or down the levels of various sections, like strings against woodwinds, etc. He also gets phenomenal ambience from his long strings without in any way sacrificing melody, harmony, theme or pace from them. The phrasing and the juxtapositioning of phrases among and between sections must be heard to be believed. Also, KA's sense of the "mood" of the piece entire versus the "mood swings" within the composition are exemplary. I have never heard a more complementary rendition of this piece as a "composition"; in fact, I have never heard a version of NWS that sounded so like a complete, complex and totally coherent symphonic composition by a mature master of the genre. Romy especially mentioned the CPO "psychadelic tone", and I absolutely agree; it is mind-blowing, if you've not heard it before (and also if you have...).
I am always delighted and gratified when there is so much depth to a performance without it taking away from the proper-to-the-piece "dignity", and this performance has wonderful "integrity" on this level, not just as a musical composition, but also as an artistic "statement" in the Spiritual sense. IMO this alone qualifies the performance as Great; but how it gets to this level is also a very rare treat.
As for sonics: I have long (far too long) been eye-balling records to guess their relative thickness/VTA. Well, this record is for reasons unknown to me fairly heavy, and I think this played with my sense of its "thickness" that I previously used as a starting point. Actually measuring, it turns out to be among my very thinnest LPs. Withal, appropriate tracking also reveals it to be one of my best LPs in terms of surface quality and overall mechanical quality of playback.
Of course, Supraphon engineers ride the gain knobs, just like all orchestra recordists. They just do a better job of it than most of the other guys. Also, miking and mixing are very nice. The sonic results make it well worth some trouble to find a copy of this LP, IMO, not to mention a drop-dead performance of one of our truly great symphonies.