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The charming violin suite Prinzessin Gänseblümchen (Princess Dandelion) [listen -- CD1 track 6, 0:00-1:00], the earlier of the two suites here, originated as incidental music for a play by Jaroslav Kvapil, librettist of Foerster's Debora (l892) and Dvorák's Rusalka.

The most electrifying piece, however, is the latest work on these Foerster discs, the Elegy for violin solo of l945 [listen -- CD1 track 11, 1:02-2:06] : a work of staggering power, achieved by minimum means, and wonderfully managed by Suk, who whether single bowing or double-stopping seems to penetrate all its many layers.

Suk switches to viola with effortless ease for the three-movement Zbiroh Suite (l940), an attractive work with a marked nostalgic feel, culminating in a vibrant finale. The extended, questing Ballad, possibly better heard in its original orchestral version, dates from l9l4; two evocative Impromptus, in C minor and G minor, from two decades later : the first is especially evocative [listen -- CD2 track 5, 0:00-1:00].

The closing sonata is from the last decade of the composer's life, dating from l943. Foerster's style may not have evolved as far as some other composers', but he always stood on the cusp of l9th and 20th century music, and the resulting idiom is consistently both challenging and pleasing [listen -- CD2 track 9, 0:00-1:02]. Suk's treatment of the cadenza passages in the Andante is as magical as that in the Elegy (of the same period), and he and Hála are just as mesmerising in the ruminating piano-accompanied passages.

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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