WORKS: Works for Violin & Piano (complete)
PERFORMER: Josef Suk (violin), Josef Hála (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3473-2
Despite his considerable reputation as a symphonist and dramatic composer, the essence of Fibich’s musical voice is best perceived in more intimate genres such as the exquisite cycle of Moods, Impressions and Reminiscences for solo piano. The works for violin and piano follow a similar line of gentle nostalgia and melancholy juxtaposed with more extrovert dance patterns that relate to Czech folk music.
This mixture of elements is harnessed most effectively here in the large-scale Sonata in D of 1876 – an idiosyncratic composition of diverse emotions which seems haunted by a strange contrapuntal episode that opens both the first and final movements. The rest of the material on this disc is less distinctive, though the charmingly unpretentious Sonatina and attractive Romance deserve the occasional airing. Veteran fiddler Josef Suk has been particularly active in the recording studio in recent years promoting some of the byways of the violin repertoire, and he certainly performs these works with wholehearted commitment.
Admittedly, there are moments where his over-sweet tone and lack of variety of nuance begin to pall – an impression that is probably exacerbated by a recording that favours the violin at the expense of the piano. Nonetheless, this is an enterprising release that makes one curious to hear more of Fibich’s neglected chamber works.