Author Topic: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)  (Read 7441 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« on: February 19, 2008, 07:36:49 AM »
One or two people have mentioned in previous posts the big-boned, romantic Symphony No.4 "Easter Eve" by the Czech composer Josef Bohuslav Foerster. I have always thought that this work is a particularly fine example of an early 20th century symphony-lyrical but suffused with " Mahlerian grandeur"(Mahler was a great admirer of Foerster's compositions!). It is available from Supraphon(Prague Symphony Orchestra-Vaclav Smetacek, coupled with the Symphonic Poem "Springtime and Desire") and Naxos(Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra-Lance Friedel, coupled with the Symphonic Poem "My Youth" and the Festive Overture).

I have often wondered what Foerster's other four symphonies sounded like and have been surprised that no-one had sought to record them. (There is an Orfeo CD of Foerster's Violin Concerto No.1 and big Symphonic Suite "Cyrano de Bergerac.)

Good News! Dabringhaus und Grimm are going to release all of the symphonies. The first issue-Symphony No.1(1888) and No.2(1892)-is being released in March with the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra under Hermann Baumer(MDG6321491).

(Now what about Novak's Autumn Symphony and his May Symphony-both for chorus and orchestra?)

Harry

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2008, 07:41:00 AM »
One or two people have mentioned in previous posts the big-boned, romantic Symphony No.4 "Easter Eve" by the Czech composer Josef Bohuslav Foerster. I have always thought that this work is a particularly fine example of an early 20th century symphony-lyrical but suffused with " Mahlerian grandeur"(Mahler was a great admirer of Foerster's compositions!). It is available from Supraphon(Prague Symphony Orchestra-Vaclav Smetacek, coupled with the Symphonic Poem "Springtime and Desire") and Naxos(Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra-Lance Friedel, coupled with the Symphonic Poem "My Youth" and the Festive Overture).

I have often wondered what Foerster's other four symphonies sounded like and have been surprised that no-one had sought to record them. (There is an Orfeo CD of Foerster's Violin Concerto No.1 and big Symphonic Suite "Cyrano de Bergerac.)

Good News! Dabringhaus und Grimm are going to release all of the symphonies. The first issue-Symphony No.1(1888) and No.2(1892)-is being released in March with the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra under Hermann Baumer(MDG6321491).

(Now what about Novak's Autumn Symphony and his May Symphony-both for chorus and orchestra?)

That could be good news. The Osnabruck Orchestra is not topnotch, and Baumer has not the reputation for being the person that could interpretate Foerster to the core. MDG often made the wrong decisions in Orchestra's and conductor's. Not in Chambermusic though.
We wait and hear.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2008, 08:00:38 AM »
Hermann Baumer did not do a bad job of conducting Jon Leif's ferociously difficult Oratorio "Edda-Part 1" for BIS recently.

I take your point about the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra but the harsh reality is that although unfamiliar works like the Foerster symphonies deserve a first-rate orchestra and conductor the smaller companies which have the enterprise to record such music simply cannot afford to employ such forces.

I bought the Foerster 4th symphony on LP-the Supraphon version-in the late 1960s/early 1970s and have waited for the other four symphonies for forty years now so I fear that this will probably be my best chance to hear them now :)

Offline carlos

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2008, 08:11:25 AM »
I've one with works for violin and piano, and another with cello and piano. Beautiful works, very well written. This guy is one of the unjustly forgotten.
Piantale a la leche hermano, que eso arruina el corazón! (from a tango's letter)

Harry

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2008, 08:18:19 AM »
Hermann Baumer did not do a bad job of conducting Jon Leif's ferociously difficult Oratorio "Edda-Part 1" for BIS recently.

I take your point about the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra but the harsh reality is that although unfamiliar works like the Foerster symphonies deserve a first-rate orchestra and conductor the smaller companies which have the enterprise to record such music simply cannot afford to employ such forces.

I bought the Foerster 4th symphony on LP-the Supraphon version-in the late 1960s/early 1970s and have waited for the other four symphonies for forty years now so I fear that this will probably be my best chance to hear them now :)

O, I will certainly buy them, for MDG makes good recordings, and I think you may be right about this being the only company that will record this composer, allthough...I heard some vague rumours, that CPO has some Foerster in the oven........too! :)
Symphonies, yes, lets see and wait a bit....

Harry

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2008, 08:18:41 AM »
I've one with works for violin and piano, and another with cello and piano. Beautiful works, very well written. This guy is one of the unjustly forgotten.

Yes, he rather is. :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2008, 11:55:15 AM »
Just received my copy of Foerster's 1st and 2nd symphonies.

Interesting and attractive, well-written works in what seems like good performances by the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra under Hermann Baumer.

Foerster's 2nd is too long at around 45 minutes but both symphonies are unmistakenly Czech, albeit with overtones of Brahms and Cesar Franck(Foerster too was a skilled organist). The mood varies between the open-aired, freshness of typical Bohemian music of the period(Dvorak and Fibich) and a strong vein of melancholy(foretastes of Suk!). Both symphonies were written in the wake of family tragedy-the deaths of Foerster's mother and sister respectively. (Apparently his 5th symphony followed the death of his son).

Recommended to the curious! No signs at present of a Czech orchestra giving us any Foerster to compare.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2008, 12:34:54 PM »
I greatly enjoy the "Easter Eve" Symphony and Cyrano de Bergerac, which I have on LP.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2008, 03:03:44 AM »
(Now what about Novak's Autumn Symphony and his May Symphony-both for chorus and orchestra?)

That's my nagging question. Novak is too strong a talent to have, afaik, absolutely no recordings of his symphonies available :(
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 05:11:03 AM »
That's my nagging question. Novak is too strong a talent to have, afaik, absolutely no recordings of his symphonies available :(

Absolutely right and we need a modern recording of Novak's "The Storm", his masterpiece and IMHO one of the great works of the 20th Century.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2008, 07:15:39 AM »
One or two people have mentioned in previous posts the big-boned, romantic Symphony No.4 "Easter Eve" by the Czech composer Josef Bohuslav Foerster. I have always thought that this work is a particularly fine example of an early 20th century symphony-lyrical but suffused with " Mahlerian grandeur"(Mahler was a great admirer of Foerster's compositions!). It is available from Supraphon(Prague Symphony Orchestra-Vaclav Smetacek, coupled with the Symphonic Poem "Springtime and Desire") and Naxos(Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra-Lance Friedel, coupled with the Symphonic Poem "My Youth" and the Festive Overture).

So, the Supraphon or the Naxos is the one to have?  :)

Offline Brian

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2008, 07:27:43 AM »
So, the Supraphon or the Naxos is the one to have?  :)
I'm a big fan of the symphony too; the only recordings I've heard are the Naxos (very fine, in my opinion - the Slovak Radio Symphony out-does itself) and a performance on YouTube, which you can find in the video forum. That one is much quicker generally (and with a heavily cut finale); in some ways the snappier tempi are good for the work, but I'm not sure which approach I prefer. Naturally, there is poor YouTube sound quality to deal with - but apparently (judging by Hurwitz) the Supraphon disc is a lot like the video in terms of being a livelier alternative to Naxos.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2008, 09:58:56 AM »
So, the Supraphon or the Naxos is the one to have?  :)

I have both. The Naxos is better recorded but I am more used to the Supraphon, so prefer that performance. You will not be disappointed with the Naxos.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2008, 10:47:45 AM »
I have both. The Naxos is better recorded but I am more used to the Supraphon, so prefer that performance. You will not be disappointed with the Naxos.

Yes, both performances are excellent although the Smetacek recording is 40 years old now. If you have both you get the different couplings! Smetacek has Cyrano de Bergerac and Friedel on Naxos has Meine Jugend and the Festive Overture.

Offline Wanderer

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Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1859-1951) Symphony No.4
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2008, 11:57:56 AM »
Thanks for all the answers!  :)
I'll try the Naxos disc; plus, the online samples I've listened to sound very good indeed.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2009, 04:27:06 PM »
Foerster's Cello Concerto is scheduled for release by Supraphon at the end of this month-

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Supraphon/SU39892

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2009, 02:13:10 AM »
Foerster's Cello Concerto is scheduled for release by Supraphon at the end of this month-

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Supraphon/SU39892

Great news - thanks Colin.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Turner

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2016, 11:25:50 PM »
Another vote for Smetacek´s Cyrano recording.

The piano trios are nice and very melodic works too, though not an essential part of the repertoire, quite conservative.

Based on some rather superficial hearing, the Brilliant Classics 4 CD box of Foerster´s piano works seems to be mainly for completists, IMO - not extremely interesting, and small pieces only.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 11:28:30 PM by Turner »

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Josef Bohuslav Foerster(1859-1951)
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2020, 12:03:06 PM »
Foerster, Josef (1859-1951) - Piano Trios, Piano Music, String Quartets, & Symphonies 1/2 w/ the performers shown below - this morning, I started w/ the Piano Trios followed by the 4-CD set of Piano Music w/ Patricia Goodson which I am finding just a beautiful listen (and not done) - will do the others today or tomorrow.  Foerster lived until his early 90s and wrote a LOT of music in numerous genres (List HERE).

Now this thread was last posted to in Sept 2017, so any thoughts on Foerster's music and other recordings?  Not sure 'how much' more I want to own?  Spotify has just a page of his discography, so might do some additional listening there - reviews attached of the recordings below - Dave :)