COMPOSERS: Dvorák; Suk
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorák • Suk
WORKS: Suite in A, Op. 98b, B90; Serenade in E flat, Op. 6;Scherzo fantastique, Op. 25
PERFORMER: Prague Philharmonia/Jakub Hrusa
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3882-2
Suk received much from Dvorák’s teaching, but it is a tribute to the latter’s methods that rarely did his pupils sound like a carbon copy. Even in the relatively early and wholly delightful String Serenade Suk’s points of contact with Dvorák amount to little more than an occasional counter melody and a homage to the older composer’s own String Serenade at the start of the finale. Dvorák’s A major Suite, originally for piano, later arranged for orchestra, was written in 1894 in America two years after the Suk Serenade; with its catchy melodies and the ‘cakewalk’ rhythms of the middle movement the suite very much breathes the air of the New World as Dvorák perceived it. Hrusa takes an affectionate view of the Suite which at times descends into sentimentality, notably in the first movement where passages indicated to be played up to tempo are slowed unnecessarily. In general the playing here is attractive if occasionally lacking in unanimity, and the slightly constricted recording results in a boomy bass from time to time. The performance of the Suk Serenade is more satisfying, but Hrusa seems most at ease in the sweeping canvas of the Scherzo fantastique. In the cases of both the Dvorák suite and the Suk Serenade there are more satisfying performances available by Doráti of the former and Belohlávek of the latter.