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Josef Suk 1875-1935

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vandermolen:
Very surprised that there has not, as far as I can see, been a thread devoted to this great composer. I have just bought the new excellent CD of Suk's magnificent 'Asrael Symphony' (see below). This is Suk's masterpiece, inspired by the death of his father-in-law, Dvorak and the death of his young wife, Otylka. In many ways it is a very tragic work, quite Mahlerian in places, which eventually arrives at a kind of fragile acceptance of fate, which is deeply moving. Suk's other works are of a uniformly high standard (including some lovely chamber works), but Asrael stands head and shoulders above everything else:

sul G:

--- Quote from: vandermolen on March 28, 2009, 04:22:22 PM ---Very surprised that there has not, as far as I can see, been a thread devoted to this great composer. I have just bought the new excellent CD of Suk's magnificent 'Asrael Symphony' (see below). This is Suk's masterpiece, inspired by the death of his father-in-law, Dvorak and the death of his young wife, Otylka. In many ways it is a very tragic work, quite Mahlerian in places, which eventusally sarrives at a kind of fragile acceptance of fate, which is deeply moving. Suk's other works are of a uniformly high standard (including some lovely chamber works), but Asrael stands head and shoulders above everything else:


--- End quote ---

Suk's one of the greats of the early 20th century, one of the most interesting and personal of the late romantics, and I'm with you on all of the above - except, perhaps, the ranking of the magnificent Asrael above everything else! Not only are there other orchestral pieces which I think are equally fine (personally, I think Pohadka Leta - A Summer's Tale - is even finer and more subtle) but there's also a risk of equating scale of utterance with quality. Asrael has a flipside, for instance, in the piano cycle About Mother which Suk wrote for his son - the same depth of feeling concerning the same tragedy, but here painfully intimate and familial in tone, not projected onto a cosmic canvas as is the case with the orchestral work. I think the two works complement each other perfectly - and that it's only a matter of taste as to which is more powerful. As I tend to react more strongly to intimacy and fragility in music than I do to large-scale, ambitious piece, About Mother affects me even more than Asrael.

J:
I've always especially loved Suk's cantata "Under the Apple Tree" and the Serenade.  I'm amazed at how many recordings of Asrael are now in the catalog - a dozen or more.  I bought the Pesek/Virgin CD back when I believe the only alternatives were Kubelik and Neumann.  Are any of the subsequent releases consensually (ha - does that ever happen) superior to Pesek? 

Dundonnell:
I am not absolutely sure that I can agree either with you, Jeffrey, that 'Asrael' is Suk's masterpiece-fantastically fine work though it certainly is, moving, powerful and passionate.

Two of Suk's later big works are equally impressive, in my opinion. They are both large-scale and ambitious(sorry, Luke :)) but the Symphonic Poem 'Ripening'('Zrani') of 1913-18 and the 'Epilogue' for soloists, chorus and orchestra which Suk worked on from 1920 until 1932 are masterpieces of rich, complex harmony and profound and visionary spirit. Essential parts of any Suk collection :)

sul G:

--- Quote from: Dundonnell on March 28, 2009, 04:48:45 PM ---...They are both large-scale and ambitious(sorry, Luke :))...

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yes, well, I could hardly expect anything else, could I  ;D ;D ;) ;)    Wonderful pieces, of course, these two. Though I still prefer Summer's Tale because it has a greater transparency and lightness and many of Suk's most potent thematic ideas - it's a wonderfully shimmering work that never loses focus.

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