Music for Prague 1968; Reflections; Three Frescoes
Prague Symphony Orchestra/Tomáš Brauner
Supraphon SU42942 68:12 mins
Like his older compatriot Martinů, Karel Husa studied in Paris and then after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia built a distinguished composing career in exile, mostly in the United States. Nevertheless, as the music on this recording indicates, his heart remained with his native land. Music for Prague 1968 was a reaction to the Russian invasion, and makes extensive use of the Hussite Chorale ‘Ye who are God’s warriors’, a poignant touchstone for many Czech composers. In this four-movement suite, Husa captures the bleakness and rage felt by so many at this tragic time. The Three Frescoes of 1947, composed after studies in Paris, show an uncompromising modernism a long way from the sterile socialist realist style he would have been expected to adopt had he stayed in Czechoslovakia.
His second symphony, Reflections, was composed after the fall of Communism in 1983 when he was at last able to return to Prague, and is testament to Husa’s remarkable consistency of style. Tomáš Brauner and the Prague Symphony Orchestra on this well-recorded disc capture Husa’s attenuated orchestral textures with passion and insight; only the finale of Music for Prague 1968 seems a little lacking in energy.