ALBUM TITLE: A Festival of Fučík
WORKS: Entry of the Gladiators; Under the Admirals Flag; Mississippi River; Die Regimentskinder; Der alte Brummbär; Winterstürme; Florentiner; Marinarella; Donausagen; Hercegovac; Uncle Teddy; Miramare
PERFORMER: David Hubbard (bassoon); Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA5158 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Dvořák's composition pupils were a varied bunch: at the more exalted end are Novák and Suk, but there were also a number who made their name in the world of operetta and popular music, among them Oskar Nedbal, Rudolf Friml and Julius Fučík. Superbly educated musically with enormous technical resources, Fučík moved with ease in the idiom of his fellow Czechs, Dvořák and Smetana. But there are a number of other influences contributing to his engaging musical style, not least French ballet, the Viennese waltz and, unsurprisingly for a virtuoso march composer, Sousa. Alongside the razzmatazz – glaringly evident in the big-top favourite, Entry of the Gladiators – Fučík’s ear for fine orchestral colour and distinctive melody is a constant delight notably in the concert overtures, Marinarella and Miramare, and the Little Ballerinas waltz.
Neeme Järvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra deliver this excellently recorded anthology with great enthusiasm, throwing themselves into these brightly coloured scores without a hint of condescension or irony. David Hubbard supplies the cadenza and obbligato solo for bassoon – Fučík’s own instrument – in the comic polka The Old Grumbler with verve. All in all, this is a highly enjoyable reminder of the delights of Romanticism’s popular side. Jan Smaczny