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Sheer joy

The music of Josef Bohuslav Foerster -
with RODERIC DUNNETT

'... wonderfully managed by Suk ...'

Josef Bohuslav Foerster: Works for Violin and Piano. (c) 1999 Supraphon

 

<< Continued from yesterday

The filler on Supraphon 11 1822-2 011 is a later (1985) Smetacek recording of an extraordinary 18 minute symphonic poem (a metier Foerster made his own), Springtime and Desire [listen -- track 5, 6:56-7:59], which opens with a Tristanesque yearning and settles into an idiom closer to Novák (Eternal Longing) or full blown Janácek and Strauss (it dates from l9l5; Foerster, born in 1859, lived in to his 90s and died in l951).

Foerster: Symphony No 4. (c) 1994 Supraphon

The affectionate warmth of the string playing Václav Smetacek adduces from his players in this wonderfully lush, deeply romantic work is of the highest order. The theme simply refuses to settle, but writhes and twists into wonderful new keys and harmonies with almost Mahlerian logic (perhaps not surprisingly : when working as a critic based in Germany, Foerster was an ardent early champion of Mahler). Springtime and Desire is a classic of its era, full of Baxian rapture, and a work so lovely and rewarding that it deserves to be staple diet everywhere.

More recently Supraphon filled a gap with an almost unnoticed double disc of works for violin and piano, SU 3401-2 132, including a pair of sonatas, two suites and a brace of impromptus, by the already legendary Josef Suk (now seventy two). This is a superb disc. The impressive, many-faceted opening Fantasia, dating from as late as l925, is permeated by a motif from Eva. The Sonata (l889), published by Universal Edition, is a substantial work despite a salon exterior, and a good example of late l9th century music feeling its way towards Impressionism. In both works (unlike in their more recent Fibich recording, which I find lacks something), Suk and Hála seem to know exactly where they're going at every turn. The cavorting scherzo (allegro con brio) is sheer joy.

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Copyright © 11 November 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - SUPRAPHON 11 1822-2 011

PURCHASE SYMPHONY NO 4, 11 1822-2 011 FROM AMAZON

CD INFORMATION - SUPRAPHON SU 3401-2 132

PURCHASE VIOLIN/PIANO DISC, SU 3401-2 132 FROM AMAZON

SUPRAPHON WEBSITE

 

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