'... a "dream" performance, magical, sensuous, dramatic in turn, marvellously controlled during every gear change.'
Admiring Suk's use of the orchestra -
with BILL NEWMAN
Josef Suk's music is regarded as very special in his homeland
Czechoslovakia, but unless you have been collecting past recordings of A
Summer Tale (1907-9, praised by Mahler) by Karel Sejna and Libor Pesek
you may be unfamiliar with the music due to the paucity of live performances
elsewhere. Flanked by Asrael Symphony, Ripening and Epilogue,
each revolve around different stages of man's maturity combined with
the forces of nature. On Naxos budget-line, Andrew Mogrelia and the Slovak
Radio Symphony sadly don't compete, but Sir Charles Mackerras - dedicated
disciple of Vaclav Talich and Karel Ancerl - with the Czech Philharmonic
come up with a 'dream' performance, magical, sensuous, dramatic in turn,
marvellously controlled during every gear change.
Voices of Life and Consolation - (Sejna's metric beat,
14' 37" countered by Mackerras's smoother flowing style,13'
36") - steadily climbs to a phrase peak in strings, brass, percussion
(3' in), then simmers down for cor anglais, flute, clarinet solos, phrase
turns suggestive of bird cries [listen - track 1, 4:50-5:55].
Suk exploits his forces with great skill and imagination - trumpets high
up, horns between, timpani marking the pulse, an idyllic central section
- solo violin merging with harp, horns, trombones - a foretaste of the work's
Noon interweaves a langourous folk-like melody - piccolo and bass
clarinet with decorations - against pianissimi upper strings and low bass
chords. Soft-toned trumpets and horns enter, menacing minor-key interchanges
leading to high flute and muted trombones at the close. Suk was often moved
by entertainers he met on his travels. Intermezzo - Blind musicians
- originally intended as an extra movement to the earlier Fairy Tale
- has two cor anglais and two harps threading their sad lament ; solo violin
and viola joining forces.
Copyright © 9 July 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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