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Lustrous 4CD selection of recordings by Libor Pesek
, 4 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Gold Collection - Debussy; Suk; Ravel; Scriabin; Bruckner (Audio CD)
Having previously bought the Sawallisch box from Supraphon I sort of assumed these would be live concert recordings as well, but in fact they're studio sessions and very warmly recorded and ambient DDD as well. One newbie is the Bruckner 7, a gratifying addition to the Czech Phil's slender Bruckner discography; for the most part we are in heady romantic territory in this bargain Pesek sampler.
The music of Josef Suk dominates and it's hardly surprising. For most people, Pesek on CD is the guy who recorded a Suk series for Virgin. I won't be separated from his wonderfully sombre Asrael Symphony with the RLPO. Supraphon offer two rarities, Under the Apple Tree and also extracts from Fairy Tale; the former put me in mind of the theatre music of Grieg and Sibelius, warmed up of course by the Czech accent; Fairy Tale is dreamy, glossy romantic fare. Suk's Serenade is plenty charming and this as fine a recording as you could wish for. A Summer's Tale, Op.29, which lasts about as long as an Elgar symphony, containing five movements with somewhat enigmatic titles, was re-recorded in Liverpool to better effect but Pesek still falls short of Mackerras' confidence and sultry sensuality (Decca) and the piece itself approximates Suk's mightier utterances, Asrael and Ripening; nonetheless, well worth exploring.
I was really looking forward to this CPO Bruckner 7th. It takes a proper fool or madman to mess up Bruckner's most beautiful work and I'm pleased to say this is a sunny, even cidery account lasting 60mins, despoiled only by a clunky ending and a couple of slack episodes. Intriguingly, a period of two weeks is listed for the recording sessions in January 1986, the next longest being one week for A Summer's Tale.
Overall this is a cheap and very cheerful box-set full of colourful music intelligently handled and skilfully performed. One could easily live contentedly with these versions as library choices.
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