Fibich: Symphony No. 2 in E flat , Op. 38; Symphony No. 3 in E minor, Op. 53

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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 in E flat , Op. 38; Symphony No. 3 in E minor, Op. 53
PERFORMER: Detroit SO/Neeme Järvi
Fibich was once described as the ‘Son’ in a Holy Trinity of Czech music in which Smetana was the ‘Father’ and Dvorák the ‘Holy Spirit’. These days his star has been eclipsed by Janácek and Martinu; even Suk is better served on record. This new recording of the Second and Third Symphonies gives clear notice that Fibich’s obscurity is unjustified. They are fine, full-blooded works in the Romantic manner. If at times there is a little over-emphasis in the use of ideas, much else is moving and exhilarating: for starters try the slow movement of the Second Symphony.


Performances on Supraphon of these splendid pieces have come and gone over the years. Neeme Järvi’s recording of Symphonies 2 and 3, to add to his rendition of the First already available, is rich compensation for neglect. These performances are vibrant, intelligent and full of love for the spirit of the works. Perhaps he drives some of the tempi a little too fiercely, but at nearly every stage I was won over to his view. Splendidly recorded, this issue can be treasured not just by Czech enthusiasts but by anyone with a taste for the Romantic symphony. Jan Smaczny