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Suk: Asrael Symphony / Fairy Tale / Serenade for Strings Double CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Jiri Belohlavek
  • Composer: Josef Suk
  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00000IM79
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,024 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
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14:56
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2
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7:14
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3
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12:09
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13:54
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Disc 2
1
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10:40
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2
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3:47
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3
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6:59
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4
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8:43
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5
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6:00
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6
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6:04
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7
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9:38
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8
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By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 July 2013
Format: Audio CD
This pair of discs were first issued separately. They make an obvious coupling as offered here.
Both have been reviewed before and those two reviews are as follows;

...............................

Fairy Tale and String serenade:
This disc, well recorded in 1992, features two early works by Josef Suk. The Serenade is the better known but the Fairy Tale suite is a most attractive piece, somewhat more embedded into the romantic styles current at that time - Richard Strauss for example. The music is not so involved dramatically or orchestrally and has a generally lighter touch. Dvorak was Suk's father-in law at the time of the Fairy Tale and Suk was his favourite pupil at the time of the Serenade. Dvorak was enthusiastic about both works and with good reason.

The Fairy Tale suite is in four movements and was originally written as incidental music for a stage play. However, as Suk became more and more involved with the plot, the music eventually outgrew the play and was later re-arranged to form this separate suite where each movement is like a mini tone poem. This is a very persuasive performance by an orchestra and conductor deeply sympathetic to the Czech idiom and the performance carries considerable conviction.

Much the same can be said of the playing in the Serenade. This is a lighter work and is often paired with the Dvorak string Serenade which may well have been Suk's model. It follows Dvorak's advice to apply himself more to major keys rather than the minor keys which Suk had previously favoured. This resulted in a predominately happy work which has been Suk's most popular work ever since.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9d5b854c) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d0d84b0) out of 5 stars Pristine and powerful! 1 Jan. 2002
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I just received my copy of this recording yesterday and I've listened to it straight through twice already. The quality of the recording is absolutely perfect. The clarity of the gentle, lyrical passages is pure and beautiful. The more powerful passages come through with a thunder that is often missing from classical recordings. I love it!
Of course, the compositions themselves are beautiful and full of emotional expression in a purely and unapologetically late romantic style. The performance by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra is as good as it gets. They know how these pieces need to be played and they do it well.
Do yourself a favor and buy this recording. You will not be dissapointed.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d82d198) out of 5 stars Bravo to Belohlavek 12 Feb. 2003
By Bob Jakes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was only recently introduced to the works of Suk, and this 2-CD set is a superb example of why his music is becoming a mainstay of my collection! The Czech Philharmonic really knows how to bring out the best in this music, and I heartily recommend this recording. The Asrael Symphony especially is worth the price alone!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d05060c) out of 5 stars A useful coupling of two fine earlier isues 1 July 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This pair of discs were first issued separately. They make an obvious coupling as offered here.
Both have been reviewed before and those two reviews are as follows;

...............................

Fairy Tale and String serenade:
This disc, well recorded in 1992, features two early works by Josef Suk. The Serenade is the better known but the Fairy Tale suite is a most attractive piece, somewhat more embedded into the romantic styles current at that time - Richard Strauss for example. The music is not so involved dramatically or orchestrally and has a generally lighter touch. Dvorak was Suk's father-in law at the time of the Fairy Tale and Suk was his favourite pupil at the time of the Serenade. Dvorak was enthusiastic about both works and with good reason.

The Fairy Tale suite is in four movements and was originally written as incidental music for a stage play. However, as Suk became more and more involved with the plot, the music eventually outgrew the play and was later re-arranged to form this separate suite where each movement is like a mini tone poem. This is a very persuasive performance by an orchestra and conductor deeply sympathetic to the Czech idiom and the performance carries considerable conviction.

Much the same can be said of the playing in the Serenade. This is a lighter work and is often paired with the Dvorak string Serenade which may well have been Suk's model. It follows Dvorak's advice to apply himself more to major keys rather than the minor keys which Suk had previously favoured. This resulted in a predominately happy work which has been Suk's most popular work ever since.

Suk's finest work, the Asrael symphony, is a much more serious work and was written following the death of both Dvorak and then Suk's wife, Dvorak's daughter, both at an early age and within a year of each other. None of that experience touches either of the works on this disc which provide an altogether happier listening experience.

.........................

The Asrael Symphony

As mentioned above, this 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 a 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 pair of discs makes a satisfying coupling and provide a rounded portrayal of this composer with some of his best works.
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