I don't propose to be at all analytical about this performance, but feel confidant in writing a positive review after a first hearing.
"Asrael" is the Biblical Angel of Death, and Suk began this five movement symphony in 1904 after the death of his father-in-law and mentor Antonín Dvorák on 1 May, which affected him greatly. Yet worse was to to come. On 5 July 1905, at the age of 31, he also lost his beloved Otylka (Otilie Dvoráková), herself only 27, whom he had married in 1898.
When Otylka died, Suk was working on the fourth movement and had planned the fifth. He threw this work away, and replaced it with two adagio movements. The work was completed in 1906, and dedicated to Dvorák and Otylka. It lasts just over an hour.
The performance here by Ashkenazy and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra is involving from start to finish. It's true that "involvement" is one of the undoubted advantages of SACD surround, but what I mean here is more like the total immersion in a piece of music that one can find, if one's lucky, in a concert hall. Ashkenazy's performance was recorded in 2008.
I already have the RBCD version by Kubelík and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra recorded in 1981, when this piece was just starting to enter the regular symphonic repertoire. My reaction then was a sort of "Yes...but", and I have not played it much since. Ashkenazy is a different matter altogether, though in respect to Kubelík, I will certainly listen to his performance again.
If you are unfamiliar with the symphony, I can heartily recommend this version, although I have heard good things about the BIS SACD by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Flor, also recorded in 2008. Suk's musical voice is his own, and perhaps closer to Mahler than Dvorák. So, if that attracts, you owe yourself to hear this!
DISCLAIMER: This is a Hybrid SACD. Unless otherwise indicated, any comments relating to sound are based on the SACD surround track as heard on a 4.0 speaker system. All speakers are full range. The CD stereo layer can be played on any CD, DVD or Blu-ray player.