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Suk: Fairy Tale / Falletta

> Fantasy in G minor, Op. 24 - Fantasy in G minor, Op. 24
> Pohadka (Fairy Tale), Op. 16 - I. O vernem milovani Raduze a Mahuleny a jejich strastech
> Pohadka (Fairy Tale), Op. 16 - II. Intermezzo: Hra na labute a pavy
> Pohadka (Fairy Tale), Op. 16 - III. Intermezzo: Smutecni hudba
> Pohadka (Fairy Tale), Op. 16 - IV. Runy kletba a jak byla laskou zrusena
> Fantasticke scherzo, Op. 25 - Fantasticke scherzo, Op. 25

Album Summary

>Suk, Josef : Fantasy for violin & orchestra, Op 24
>Suk, Josef : Fairy tale, Op. 16
>Suk, Josef : Fantastic Scherzo, Op. 25
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Encouraged by Brahms and Dvorak while embracing the innovative influences of Debussy, Mahler and Richard Strauss, Josef Suk ranked among the most important composers of the Czech Romantic school. Suk's Fantasy carries the listener into realms of reverie with its virtuosic violin solo and rich orchestration. The magical story of the romance of a dashing young prince, Raduz, who desires the hand of Princess Mahulena from a rival mountain kingdom, is depicted in the Fairy Tale suite. The Fantastic Scherzo is one of his most evocative works, with a haunting folk tune that lingers long in the heart.

"The greatest Czech artists have recorded this music, but they yield surprisingly little to JoAnn Falletta and her Buffalo players... In Fairy Tale, a gorgeously romantic work as substantial as a symphony, The Game of Swans and Peacocks has all the bounce of a Slavonic Dance, while the large outer movements are beautifully shaped and exquisitely played... Really, Falletta's performance is as good as any, and extremely well recorded too. It's so important that this wonderful music gets played by non-native musicians; it's the only way that it stands a chance of entering the standard repertoire, where it so obviously ought to be. Projects like this deserve your support, and will reward your time and attention many times over. Strongly recommended." -ClassicsToday

American Record Guide
Normally I would automatically prefer the Czech recordings of all three works by the likes of Belohlavek, Ancerl, Talich, and Pesek. Those are better but not by much; and when one considers the bargain price for Naxos discs, I think this one is good enough to recommend. JoAnn Falletta does a superb job of leadership, and Michael Ludwig is a creditable soloist. The notes are satisfactory.

Audiophile Audition
This disc offers a superb introduction to the color and variety of Suk's orchestral music, in performances that don't at all make me pine for the Czech musicians who once seemed to own this music. Michael Ludwig is a powerful virtuoso presence in the Fantasy, and he's accompanied expertly by Falletta and her orchestra. The other works are all theirs, and they truly shine. The Buffalo musicians seem to be thoroughly inside this music, and much of the credit must go to JoAnn Falletta, who brings out all the splendor and verve of Suk's writing for orchestra. Add to this just about the best recording I've heard from Buffalo - big and bright, with a very convincing sense of the hall. Naxos' price may be budget, but everything else about this disc bespeaks aural luxury. I highly recommend it.

The WholeNote
JoAnn Falletta and Michael Ludwig, conductor and concert-master respectively of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, combined for an outstanding Naxos CD of the Dohnányi Violin Concertos a few years ago, and now they're back with the music of Czech composer Josef Suk (1874 - 1935), this time with their own orchestra (Naxos 8.572323). Suk studied with Dvorák, who later became his father-in-law, and continued the Czech school of Dvorák and Smetana while managing to accommodate the influences of his contemporaries Mahler, Richard Strauss and Debussy. Ludwig is outstanding in the Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in G minor, and also takes the solo line in the opening movement of the four-movement suite Pohadka (Fairy Tale), compiled from incidental music Suk wrote for a theatrical work in 1898. The orchestral Fantastic Scherzo in G minor rounds out another immensely satisfying CD from this terrific team.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, USA (05/03/2010-05/04/2010).



Reviews

This Fairy Tale has a happy ending (and beginning and middle)
This new release features three orchestral works by Czech composer Josef Suk, son-in-law to Antonin Dvorak. JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra turn in solid performances of these works, and produce a disc that rewards repeated listening. Sukís Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra, Op. 24 starts the program. Michael Ludwig shines as the soloist, bringing just a hint of Slavic expression (for want of a better term) to the music. Although Suk didnít use Czech folk music in his compositions, this performance leaves no doubt as to his nationality. The centerpiece of the release is Sukís Fairy Tale, Op. 16. Although influenced by Richard Strauss, Suk took a different path. His orchestration is just as brilliant and exotic as Strauss, but without the latterís brashness and aggressiveness. Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic hit the right tone just about all the way through the work. The soft passages are tenderly beautiful, the dramatic ones authoritative without being bombastic. In this recording one can understand why the Fairy Tale is one of Sukís most popular works. The final work on the album, the Fantastick scherzo, Op. 25, trips lightly along. Falletta keeps the music moving along, while lingering over the introspective sections long enough for the listener to savor them. Particularly striking is how well-recorded this release is. Sukís music is as much about orchestral coloration as it is about structure, and Buffalo Philharmonic has a warm, inviting sound that really adds to the performance of these works. Recommended for the performances, and a real bargain for the price.
Submitted on 04/05/11 by RGraves321 
Suk Fairy Tale
The composer Josef Suk continued the tradition of Czech music begun by Smetana, Dvorak, and Janacek; however, unlike them, Suk derived virtually no stimulus from folk music. Since I have long been a fan of the music of Suk, Dvorak's student and later his son-in-law, this CD is a great treat. Suk's "Pohadka" (Fairy Tale) Suite, Op. 16, comprises four movements extracted from some incidental music that Suk composed for the play "Raduz and Mahulena" by Julius Zeyer. The story concerns the handsome prince Raduz, who falls in love with Mahulena, a princess from a rival mountain kingdom. The lovers must undergo trials before they can wed. The sorceress Runa, Mahulena's evil mother, tries to separate the lovers by turning her daughter into a poplar tree and causing Raduz to lose his memory. Raduz chops down the tree, which bleeds and releases them from Runa's spell. The music is absolutely delightful, and the current recording is very well performed. I have a tiny reservation about the second movement (The Game of Swans and Peacocks), which is fast (3:25) compared with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra version under Jiri Belohlavek (3:41), but this may merely be a matter of personal preference. While there are other CDs that contain this work, this one has an advantage in two ways; it's budget-priced and it also offers the Fantasy in G Minor, Op. 24, which appears to be currently unavailable on any other CD. Why it has been so unjustly neglected is a mystery, for it is a lovely work. Suk's "Fantastic Scherzo," Op. 25, rounds out an excellent CD. The recorded sound quality is splendid, and program annotator Edward Yadzinski's notes are well written and very informative. Fans of Suk's music should not miss this one! Ted Wilks
Submitted on 04/11/11 by Ted Wilks 
Fantastic orchestral music
Josef Suk was a student of Dvorak, and later his son-in-law, and his music definitely follows in the Czech tradition of Smetana and Dvorak. But his mature works are as much about the 20th century as the 19th. Suk was aware of and his music was coloured by familiarity with Debussy, Richard Strauss, and Mahler. This new Naxos disc presents Czech pastoral scenes with exotic and fantastic elements. Though it partakes of folkloric elements, unlike Smetana or Dvorak Suk doesn't quote any actual folk songs. It's all very sophisticated, and Suk gives the music a bright shiny gloss through his clever orchestration and modernist hints. The tone-poem Fairy Tale, op. 16, is an impressive work for a composer in his early 20s. Working in the "exotic east" genre popular with European composers at least since Mozart's "Turkish" music, Suk manages to make the music sound fresh and very much his own. The Fantastic Scherzo, written five years later, is more rustic, but just as individual. Both of these pieces are orchestral show-pieces that show off the strengths of the Buffalo musicians and conductor JoAnn Falletta's direction, and the clean, clear, bright, alive sound we've come to expect from Naxos. But the best part of this collection is, I believe, the Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra, a real surprise for me. This piece is another fantasy tone-poem, but this time with a part for concertante violin. The violin wanders a fantastic landscape in much the same way as the viola in Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, though without an explicit programme. This music is dramatic and compelling, and violinist Michael Ludwig and conductor JoAnn Falletta really sell it. I couldn't believe that 23 minutes had passed when it was done.
Submitted on 06/15/11 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Suk, Josef : Fantasy for violin & orchestra, Op 24
  • Performer: Michael Ludwig (Violin)
  • Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
  • Ensemble: Buffalo Philharmonic
  • Notes: Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, USA (05/03/2010-05/04/2010)
  • Running Time: 23 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Suk, Josef : Fairy tale, Op. 16
  • Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
  • Ensemble: Buffalo Philharmonic
  • Notes: Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, USA (05/03/2010-05/04/2010)
  • Running Time: 30 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1894

>Suk, Josef : Fantastic Scherzo, Op. 25
  • Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
  • Ensemble: Buffalo Philharmonic
  • Notes: Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, USA (05/03/2010-05/04/2010)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1903