Dvorak's pupil and son-in-law Josef Suk was a fine violinist and a modest, highly capable composer known chiefly for a charming but unadventurous Serenade for Strings composed in his teens. But Dvorak's death in 1904 inspired him to the greatest creative effort of his life – an intensely emotional, richly elaborated memorial symphony, lasting an hour and named "Asrael" for the Islamic angel of death. The emotional content of the work became intensified during its composition when Suk's wife (Dvorak's daughter), Otylka, died when she was only 27, and "Asrael" became an elegy for father and daughter. The full power of this work is felt in this recording (Virgin 7-91221-2) by Libor Pesek and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
"…This new Belohlavek version gives us the best of both worlds by combining nobility of utterance and a passionate advocacy of this stirring music in glorious 5.0 multi-channel sound.
The committed playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in both works exemplifies their respect both for Belohlavek as arguably the finest interpreter of Czech music alive today and their enthusiasm for the composer's regrettably still neglected output. This SACD is a mandatory purchase for lovers of Suk's opulent scores and audiophiles alike." ~sa-cd.net
"…The committed playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in both works exemplifies their respect both for Belohlavek as arguably the finest interpreter of Czech music alive today and their enthusiasm for the composer's regrettably still neglected output. This SACD is a mandatory purchase for lovers of Suk's opulent scores and audiophiles alike." ~sa-cd.net
The steady increase in recordings of his music has now established Suk as one of the great musical poets of the early 20th century. Too much is made of his affinities with his teacher and father-in-law, Dvorák; for his own part, Dvorák never imposed his personality on his pupils and Suk's mature music owes him little more than a respect for craft and an extraordinarily well developed ear for orchestral colour. His affinities in the five-movement A Summer's Tale, completed in 1909 – a magnificent successor to his profound Asrael Symphony – reflect Debussy and parallel the music of his friend Sibelius and Holst, but underpinning the musical language is a profound originality energising both form and timbre.
Mackerras's recording joins a select band: Šejna's vintage performance on Supraphon and Pešek's inspired rendition with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; his is an equal to them both and the Czech Philharmonic's playing is both aspiring and inspiring.
Claus Peter Flor and the Malasian Philharmonic Orchestra follow their acclaimed recordings of Smetana's Má Vlast and Suk's 'Asrael' with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.
The musical reconstructions industry keeps gathering pace, but few works have attracted as much attention as Mahler's 10th Symphony. Joe Wheeler (who died in 1977) was a brass-playing British civil servant with a passion for Mahler. This completion (itself in an edition by the conductor here, Robert Olson) uses the leaner orchestration of the composer's later years. But does it sound Mahlerian? Certainly more so than Remo Mazzetti's 1997 version, but neither caps Deryck Cooke's acute sense of authentic detail and color in his legendary edition.
Cyrille Verdeaux and Clearlight re-visit and expand upon 'Clearlight Symphony'. Totally new recording featuring a wide range of instrumentation. The playing of Didier (the only Gong member who has made it onto this release from the trio of Gongsters on the original) distinctively glows as always.
The late Alfred Schnittke has, after his death, been accused of writing too much music of variable quality. This debate is still raging although suffice to say that the Eighth Symphony truly is one of his greatest works and indeed, one of the great symphonic works of the latter twentieth century. The charge of oppressive asceticism laid against the Sixth and Seventh symphonies can hardly be held up to this expansive and frankly emotional work. It is as if Schnittke relaxed the skeletal sounds of his previous essays in the genre and, while not quite returning to the dazzling orchestral pyrotechnics of the Fifth Symphony (Concerto Grosso no. 4), creating a work of great sincerity and beauty. The first movement is an obsessive repetition of a wide-ranging (in pitch, not rhythm) melody, seemingly effortlessly varied to touch on all sections of the orchestra.