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Suk: Asrael Symphony Import

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

Price: £17.95
Only 1 left in stock.
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Jiri Belohlavek
  • Composer: Josef Suk
  • Audio CD (28 Oct. 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B000000AP0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,551 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I Andante Sostenuto/Andante Con Moto E Resoluto/Piu Pesante E Maestoso
  2. II Andante
  3. III Vivace Sostenuto/Appassionato/Maestoso
  4. IV Adagio
  5. V Adagio E Maestoso/Allegro Appassionato/Adagio E Maestoso/Andante Maestoso/Adagio E Mesto

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Reviewed: Gramophone 5/1992, John Steane

"Like an eye gazing fixedly into space" The description of the sustained D flat on flutes and muted trumpet that runs through most of the symphony's second movement. Semitonal oscillations from this D flat to quote from Dvorak's Requiem are brief pointers to what is going on behind the eye. Is there anything in Mahler that so vividly describes the immobilization of profound shock in the wake of Fate's crushing power (the end of the first movement)? It also provides one of many points of contrast between this new all-Czech Asrael and Pesek's Liverpool version on Virgin Classics. The latter's trumpet clearly projects that numb stare, the sighing string figures are less consoling, and the pace more obviously funereal. Belohlavek's trumpet and flutes blend, there's more warmth in the string figures, and the pace is more genuinely an andante.

A more crucial indicator comes in Suk's dark night of the soul, the scherzo: Belohlavek's Czech stringsÐviolins marginally sweeter, lower voices firmer and fuller of toneÐare a stronger feature as the hallucinations leap and dart through the orchestra; and once the contrasting Trio establishes its widely-vaulted planes of blissful reminiscence (at 6'22") you can now relish Suk's rich departures for cellos and basses (did Richard Strauss ever pen a more heartstopping sequence of modulations than this?). Turn to Pesek, though, and the nightmare is noticeably more spectral and sharply etched: there's a chill in the air, his Liverpool woodwinds slither and shriek more menacingly; Pesek is more aware and keen to exploit the potential of the dynamic contrasts. Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall's drier acoustics help, no doubt, as does the wider dynamic range of Virgin's recording.
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The Asrael Symphony is considered to be Suk's masterpiece. It was written in anguished circumstances following the deaths of Dvorak, his father-in-law in 1904 and then his wife in 1905. Suk was just 31 years old at that time and this double tragedy changed his outlook. The symphony was written with this background in mind and consists of five movements three of which are slow and one of the remaining two is predominantly slow.

The opening motif of fate and the rising and falling figure of death in the long opening movement are recurring themes in the work. The second movement, following without a pause, quotes from Dvorak's own Requiem and is centred around a funeral march idea. The fateful figure of Death also appears in the third movement, a sort of desperate scherzo.

The last two movements form a second half to this work. It starts with a movement recalling his wife, Otilka and the symphony ends with a movement depicting his struggles to cope with the new situation and, once more, much use is made of the fate and death motifs.

This is a powerful work and not as depressing as the above description may suggest. This performance is very good indeed and gets to the core of the work with playing of empathy from the Czech orchestra. Chandos provide their customary excellent sound of good depth, range and dynamic bite.

I would suggest that this disc makes a satisfying option. However, nowadays there is also an option to buy it as a pair of discs by the same forces and including excellent versions of the Fairy Tale and String Serenade, both works of a far happier disposition and which provide a rounded portrayal of this composer when coupled with this symphony.
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A marvellous discovery.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The symphony of anguish, anger, passion, reflections,&power. 16 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Josef Suk (1874-1935) wrote this powerful, anguish, contemplative Asrael Symphony by 1907, with the dedications to the noble memory of both Antonin Dvorak & Otilka Dvorak (daughter of Dvorak & wife of Suk). The original plan was a three-movement structure, to pay a tribute to Dvorak who died on May 1st, 1904. However, Otilka passed on by July 5th, 1905 of a heart condition, & Suk changed his plans of the symphony in adding two more movements, in memory of his wife.
The deaths of Dvorak & Otilka caused a turning point of Suk's life, as expressed passionately in his Asrael symphony, argueably his masterpiece. From 1905 and onwards, Suk's outlook of life consist of contemplations, tragedy, reflections, & the yearning for the past as he remembered &loved. The music after 1905, therefore, with some exceptions to his five-movement symphony poem "A Summer Tale", embodied those feelings. It is only in his Epilogue for orchestra, soloists, & chorus where he came to accept the tragic deaths more fully.
The recording of Jiri Belohlavek & the Czech Philharmonic is one of eight recordings currently available. Jiri Belohlavek directed his orchestra with a sense of passion, urgency & the adequate understanding of the symphony, & of Josef Suk. As far as sonority is concerned, only Vaclav Talich & Vaclav Neumann, both with the Czech Philharmonic as well as Evgeny Svetlanov with the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia are the top of the class, with the emotionalism pouring out like a cloudburst. It was Talich, Neumann, & Svetlanov who were most successful in bringing the darkness of the Asrael symphony more effectively than other conductors on record of this work.
This recording is warmly recommended, although should you want a recording of uppermost passion & emotions, try Svetlanov, Neumann or Talich (who was the first conductor to record this symphony by 1952).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine performance and recording of Suk's acknowledged masterpiece 1 July 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
The Asrael Symphony is considered to be Suk's masterpiece. It was written in anguished circumstances following the deaths of Dvorak, his father-in-law in 1904 and then his wife in 1905. Suk was just 31 years old at that time and this double tragedy changed his outlook. The symphony was written with this background in mind and consists of five movements three of which are slow and one of the remaining two is predominantly slow.

The opening motif of fate and the rising and falling figure of death in the long opening movement are recurring themes in the work. The second movement, following without a pause, quotes from Dvorak's own Requiem and is centred around a funeral march idea. The fateful figure of Death also appears in the third movement, a sort of desperate scherzo.

The last two movements form a second half to this work. It starts with a movement recalling his wife, Otilka and the symphony ends with a movement depicting his struggles to cope with the new situation and, once more, much use is made of the fate and death motifs.

This is a powerful work and not as depressing as the above description may suggest. This performance is very good indeed and gets to the core of the work with playing of empathy from the Czech orchestra. Chandos provide their customary excellent sound of good depth, range and dynamic bite.

I would suggest that this disc makes a satisfying option. However, nowadays there is also an option to buy it as a pair of discs by the same forces and including excellent versions of the Fairy Tale and String Serenade, both works of a far happier disposition and which provide a rounded portrayal of this composer when coupled with this symphony.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 26 April 2015
By Rick S. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Very prompt delivery. Well done!
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