Novak: In the Tatra Mountains; Eternal Longing; Slovak Suite

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Novak
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: In the Tatra Mountains; Eternal Longing; Slovak Suite
PERFORMER: Royal Liverpool PO/Libor Pesek
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45251 2
Though his reputation lags somewhat behind that of his contemporary, Josef Suk, the music of Vitezslav Novák is gradually finding a broader public. His individual, post-Dvorákian style incorporates a tendency to look beyond his native Bohemia for inspiration. Novák was fascinated by the national music of eastern Moravia and Slovakia – with its strong, snapped rhythms and plaintive air. These qualities are clearly to the fore in the brightly coloured Slovak Suite, but they also emerge in the two magnificent tone poems: In the Tatra Mountains, with its evocation of a landscape Novák loved and Eternal Longing. In all three works, Pesek’s insight and communicative enthusiasm are complemented by superbly idiomatic orchestral playing.

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Against strong competition from Czech conductors and orchestras, these performances stand up very well. Pesek has a natural way with early 20th-century Czech repertoire and his Liverpool orchestral players now respond to the idiom like natives. Not only does this CD make a strong case for Novák, it is also a splendid endpiece to Pesek’s time as musical director of the RLP. Jan Smaczny