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Josef Suk: Asrael Symphony, Op. 27b; Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20 / Belohlavek

Album Summary

>Suk, Josef : Symphony in C minor, Op. 27 "Asrael"
>Britten, Benjamin : Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20
Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

A unique and symbolic encounter: the most distinguished Czech conductor of the present time and a fabulous British orchestra communicate the profound messages in the works of great national composers. Jirí Belohlávek has mediated Czech music to orchestras and audiences worldwide, yet in 2006 - as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra - he became above all a Londoner. The recording at the 2008 Prague Spring festival of Suk's Asrael and Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem will forever serve as evidence of the extraordinary understanding between Belohlávek and the orchestra. The common denominator of the two works is the figure of the Angel of Death. A sad and immensely powerful inspiration for Suk was the passing away of his beloved wife Otilie and his dear teacher Antonín Dvorák. Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem, dedicated to the memory of his parents, is one of the composer's early masterpieces. The recording marks a symbolic leave-taking on the part of Belohlávek, who after six intense years as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is returning "home" to the Czech Philharmonic.

BBC Music Magazine
Here's a timely reminder of the profundity Jiri Belohlßvek could achieve during his impressive years as the BBC Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor...Belohlßvek caps Vaclav Neumann's earlier recording on Supraphon and matches the luminosity of Rafael Kubelik's interpretation on Panton.

MusicWeb International, August 2012
The Britten receives a fine performance. The doom-laden opening, with its pounding drums, augurs well and you can tell that Belohlßvek has established a firm grip on the music from the outset...Though the performance of Sinfonia da Requiem is a fine one, Belohlßvek's account of Asrael is finer still...From the outset the BBCSO projects the music strongly and eloquently.

Sunday Times, August 2012
Here are two fine memories of a fruitful tenure...The BBC players respond to fevered yet cogent direction with a rare but palpable intensity.

The Guardian, August 2012
There's a real lowering intensity to the first movement [of the Sinfonia da Requiem], and a manic desperation to the second, so that the consolation offered by the finale really seems to have been earned.

Gramophone Magazine, October 2012
There's absolutely no denying the impressive rigour and shrewdly calibrated dynamic control of Belohlavek's meticulously prepared conception...All told, a memorably nourishing and, by the close, profoundly moving display, which is rightly afforded an enthusiastic reception...No doubt about it, this is a release that reflects enormous credit on all concerned.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, Prague, Czech Repu (06/01/2008).


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Works Details

>Suk, Josef : Symphony in C minor, Op. 27 "Asrael"
  • Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 61 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1905

>Britten, Benjamin : Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20
  • Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 1940.
  • Running Time: 21 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1940