WORKS: A Summer’s Tale
PERFORMER: RLPO/Libor Pesek
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45057 2 DDD
There was a time when Dvorák’s pupil and son-in-law, Josef Suk, seemed all but eclipsed in the 20th-century Czech repertoire by Janácek and Martinu. These days, Suk’s star, largely as a result of the success in recent years of his superb tragic symphony Asrael, shines far more brightly. A Summer’s Tale was composed between 1907 and 1909, shortly after the completion of Asrael, though it explores a much gentler world of experience. In essence, it is a multi-movement symphonic poem evoking the feelings and fantasies of a summer’s day and night. A wealth of influences, including Debussy, combine with Suk’s appealing musical personality to produce a work of subtle charm and imagination.
Libor Pesek and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic have a fine track record where Suk is concerned with notable performances of Asrael and Ripening on CD to their credit. Their command of atmosphere, and ability to move fluently from tiny chamber groupings to vast orchestral tutti bring this remarkable canvas to vibrant life, notably in the second, fourth and fifth movements: ‘Noon’, ‘In the power of phantoms’ and ‘Night’. Pesek’s feeling for pace produces a satisfying sense of discovery for the listener in this captivating exploration of Suk’s rich inner world. Jan Smaczny