Admiring Suk's use of the orchestra
<< Continued from page 1
In the power of phantoms is pure theatre, placing even Berlioz,
Dukas, Mussorgsky and Lyadov in the shade. Incandescent, swirling violin
configurations and semitone warning motifs in winds, set the scene with
wild, leaping cadences (reminiscent of Macbeth's witches) for a solo
trumpet call straight out of hell. Suk's deviations have atonal characteristics
- listen to the instrumental build-up over repeated string figures. The
central climax [listen - track 4, 3:10-4:11] demonstrates
the superb quality of Decca's engineering - the incomparable James
Lock, of course - at the fade-away you decipher every pianissimo note on
The composer uses an identical palette of instrumental colourings for
his glorious finale - Night. Mahler's 9th symphony (1909-10),
and unfinished 10th with Cooke's completion, are the obvious points
for comparison. Ascending violins (just 35" in, 8' at full strength
[listen - track 5, 7:54-8:44]) provide key change
links for every fresh surge of richly-harmonised string melody. In effect,
this main subject becomes Suk's reaffirmation of faith in mankind.
Subsidiary material leads to other resemblances, i.e. 6' 20"-6' 36"
where the delicacy of scoring suggests Bax. The work reaches a state of
calm acceptance during the final coda.
The earlier Fantastic scherzo, a party piece for Czech conductors,
is by no means a slender work as its title suggests. Akin to Dvorak's
Scherzo capriccioso in many respects, it is even more full of harmonic
daring. This is my 'Desert Island' disc.
Copyright © 9 July 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
CD INFORMATION - DECCA 466 443-2
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