BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek – Josef Suk: Prague – A Summer’s Tale (2012) {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

(Last Updated On: December 23, 2018)

Josef Suk – A Summer’s Tale / Prague
BBC Symphony Orchestra – Jiri Belohlavek
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 3,83 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,23 GB | Full Artwork: 106 MB
Label/Cat#: Chandos # CHSA 5109 | Country/Year: UK 2012 | 3% Recovery Info
Genre: Classical | Style: Late Romantic, Early 20th Century

In my review of the excellent Chandos disc of Josef Suk’s orchestral music Suk: Ripening, Symphony in E major – Belohlavek in September 2010 I expressed the hope that there would be a follow-up disc – well here it is. Once again the performers are the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavek – now at the end of his tenure as the orchestra’s chief conductor – and like the earlier release this new one has been recorded in the spacious acoustic of Watford Colosseum in January this year by the capable team of Brian Pidgeon (producer) and Ralph Couzens (sound engineer).

The longer of the two works on this SACD is the symphonic poem ‘A Summer’s Tale’ (1907-1909). It succeeded the powerful ‘Asrael’ Symphony, a work that encapsulated the composer’s outpouring of grief following the tragic deaths of Dvorak (his father-in-law) and his wife Otilka within three months of each other. In this five-movement work the composer turns to nature for consolation and hope, though echoes of the ‘death motive’ from the ‘Asrael Symphony’ appear both in the opening movement ‘Voices of Light and Consolation’ and the phantasmagorical scherzo ‘In the Power of Phantoms’.

On disc a work such as this, scored for a large late-romantic orchestra that here includes triple woodwind, six horns, three trumpets and percussion and organ part, demands the exceptional sound quality that SACD can deliver. Thanks to Belohlavek’s careful balancing of the orchestra and the excellent Chandos recording the full impact of the huge climaxes is never diminished. However, Suk also uses his forces with delicate subtlety in, for example, the work’s third movement ‘Intermezzo: Blind Musicians.’ The scoring here is for just two harps, two cors anglais, solo violin solo viola and strings and in Belohlavek’s hands the music achieves a magical transparency and haunting atmosphere in the ample Watford venue.

The symphonic poem ‘Prague’ depicts the city through its history in both peaceful and troubled times using two main themes. The emphatic first theme is based on the melody of the Hussite chorale ‘Ye warriors of God’ while the beautiful second is taken from the incidental music that Suk wrote for Zeyer’s play ‘Radúz and Mahulena’. ‘Prague’ has had a number of fine recordings including two by Libor Pešek. The first from 1982 was with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (23’23”) and the second, ten years later, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (25’22”). The earlier performance is thrillingly impetuous, the latter much less so, though it has richer sound and an undeniable grandeur. This new Belohlavek version (24’52”) gives us the best of both worlds by combining nobility of utterance and a passionate advocacy of this stirring music in glorious 5.0 multi-channel sound.
The committed playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in both works exemplifies their respect both for Belohlavek as arguably the finest interpreter of Czech music alive today and their enthusiasm for the composer’s regrettably still neglected output.

This SACD is a mandatory purchase for lovers of Suk’s opulent scores and audiophiles alike.

Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and

SACD Info:

Josef Suk – A Summer’s Tale / Prague

BBC Symphony Orchestra – Jiri Belohlavek

Label: Chandos
Catalog#: CHSA 5109
Format: Hybrid-SACD, Album, Multichannel, Stereo
Country: UK
Released: 2012
Genre: Classical
Style: Late Romantic, Early 20th Century


1. Orchestral Works
2. Prague, Op. 26
3. A Summers Tale, Op. 29


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