Songs My Great-Grandfather Taught Me: Antonin Dvorak/Josef Suk
Those of us who listen to classical music and appreciate something that is different, will greatly appreciate this aural feast. This is a Toccata Classics label recording of Dvorák's Songs played by the great-grandson Josef Suk playing both the violin and viola and Vladimir Ashkenazy playing the piano. The 30 songs are transcribed by Josef Suk for violin/viola, for this, his very last recording.
Just this last July 7th, Josef Suk,III (1929-2011) passed away leaving a great void in Middle European interpretations of the classical masters, but we are very fortunate to have these recordings as a reminder. Toccata Classics is a label that brings seldom or never heard music to the listening public for the first time. Music that the major recording labels and concert halls are ignoring. There is some quality music that would, otherwise, never be heard.
Although Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) was a highly competent sting-player, experienced song-composer, and wrote some important orchestral music, he left little in the way of music for the solo violin. Now, thanks to Suk these transcribed melodies are being heard in a new light. This CD was recorded at the Bohemia Music Studio, Prague on September 6-8, 2009.
Total time for this CD is 60:05
Dvorak: 30 Song Transcription for Violin and Viola and Piano
Gypsy Songs, Op.55 12:12
No.1, My song of love rings through the dusk 2:58
No.2, Hey! Ring out my triangle 0:55
No.3, All around the woods are still 2:23
No.4, Songs my mother taught me 2:09
No.5, Come and join the dancing 0:59
No.6, Wide the sleeves and loose the trousers 1:10
No.7, Give a hawk a free cage 1:38
In Folk Tone, Op.73 Numbers 1 and 3 5:01
No.1, Goodnight 2:23
No.3, Oh nothing, nothing can change for me 2:38
Love Songs, Op.83 12:55
No.1, Never will love lead us to that glad goal 1:49
No.2, Death reigns in many human heart 1:55
No.3, I often wander past the house 1:04
No.4, I know that on my love to you 1:56
No.5, Nature lies peaceful in sleep and dreaming1:24
No.6, Lonely in the forest I stand 1:47
No.7, When your sweet glances fall on me 1:37
No.8, Oh, my only dear one, but for you 1:23
Four Songs, Op.82: Number 1, Leave me alone 2:27
Lullaby b194 1:43
Biblical Songs, Op.99 23:00
No.1, Clouds and darkness are round about him Psalm 97 1:57
No.2, Thou art my hiding place and my shield Psalm 119 1:43
No.3, Give ear to my prayer, O God Psalm 55 2:41
No.4, The Lord is my shepherd Psalm 23 2:26
No.5, I will sing a new song on to thee,Oh God Psalm 144 2:32
No.6, Hear my cry, Oh God Psalm 61 2:50
No.7, By the waters of Babylon Psalm 137 2:29
No.8, Turn thee unto me,and have mercy upon me Psalm 25 2:30
No.9, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills Psalm 121 1:52
No.10 Oh sing unto the Lord a new song Psalm 96 1:50
Moravian Duets, Op.32 Number 11, Captured 2:54
Josef Suk violin on tracks 1 through 19 and 30 and viola on tracks 20 through 30
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano
Those of you with keen eyes will note Josef Suk plays both the violin and viola on track 30. This is done by double-tracking and it is accomplished very well. The Psalms are from the Kralice Bible so the music is closely tied to the Czech language and may sound different to the German and English speaking, and were written in 1894, Dvorák's second year in the United States. The Lullaby was written 1895 when the composer was back home. The Gypsy Melodies were written in 1880 and the Love Songs in 1882. The Love Songs draw from the rich and fertile melodies of the Cypresses.
Piano: Steinway D, tuned by Ivan Sokol
Violin: 1961 violin made by the great Czech luthier Premysl Spidlen. Suk says, "it's a copy of a Strad."
Viola: Is Dvorák's made in the 19th century in Germany. Suk says, "Dvorak used it in 1873 and 1874."
Bows: Pfretschner, Nurnberger, and Peccatte
This is lovely music, peaceful, pleasant and relaxing. With some of the songs, a tear might swell in your eye as there is a strong emotion evoked. Suk plays this music with feeling and it is transfered to the listener, with a lovely vibrato, rich in a full-bodied sound, a sound that is his alone. Just like a good listener can tell a virtuoso violinist by a particular sound-style, that is the case with Josef Suk.
I highly recommend this CD and give it 5 stars for its originality, sound quality SPARS Code: DDD, musicianship and the revelation of quality of the musical sound. I was amazed and my ears were treated a heavenly sound. I was listening on a Blu-ray player and I heard a genuine reproduction with full depth gradation, true dynamics, and natural tonal colors. There is a quality in the spatial separation that is both natural and vivid. This is definitely a CD an audiophile would want.