DVORÁK Serenade for Strings
SUK St Wenceslas Meditation
JANACEK Suite for Strong Orchestra
Czech Chamber Orchestra/Ondrej
rec (Dvorák) March
1994; remainder May 1996 CAMPION RRCD1346 [57.03]
The Dvorák Serenade's delicacy and smoothness are captured
in the lively hall of the Rudolphinium. This brings out the Valse Triste
echoes in the Tempo di Valse. The masculine heft and impact of
the performance is striking and quite contrary to what one might have expected
of a chamber orchestra. This is a rippling and urbanely knowing performance
in which all involved seem caught up in one of the finest works of the string
orchestral genre. The leaping voltage meters of the allegro vivace will
be a good litmus of whether or not you will fall for this performance.
The Janacek Suite is charming and undemanding. If anything the work
is slightly bland. Thematic material is not strongly memorable. If you think
of the comparison between the Elgar Serenade and the Introduction
and Allegro you will get the picture. If you know your Sibelius think
in terms of the Suite Champêtre as against the string waves
of the Sixth Symphony. The suite, nicely done by Kukal and his players, is
the counterpart of the Serenade and the Suite Champêtre.
The Suk (dating from 1914) is a profoundly moving work at once a Great War
cousin to the Barber Adagio and a much closer counterpart to Holst's
Ode to Death (dedicated to the young Scottish composer Cecil Cole
killed in the Great War) and Herbert Howells' Elegy for viola, string
quartet and string orchestra (dedicated to Francis Purcell Warren also killed
in the Great War in 1917). Here, although the performance lacked only the
force of a fuller body of strings to expand to the full breadth of tone,
the sense of a tragically special moment in time was undeniable.
The Janacek and the Suk were recorded not in the Rudolphinium but in The
Church in Soukenicka Street.
A nice disc - made essential by the Dvorák. Pity Campion could not
have squeezed a further work onto the disc.