> Foerster Dvorak Suk Choruses []: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonνn DVOŘΑK (1841 – 1904)
In Nature’s Realm – mixed Choruses, Op. 65 – (1882) - (1)
Josef Bohuslav FOERSTER (1859 – 1951)

Czech Song, Op. 30 – (1890) - (1)
Nine Male Choruses, Op. 37 – (1899) - (2)
Get Up Sleepers (Op. 112) – 1920) - (1)
Joseph SUK (1874 – 1935)

Three Songs for Mixed Choir, Op. 19 – (1889) - (1)
Ten Songs for Female Choir with piano for four hands, Op. 15 – (1899) - (1, 4, 5 & 6)
Prague Philharmonic Choir – Joseph Veselka – (1), Moravian Teachers Choral Society – Jan Soupal – (2), Kuhn Mixed Choir – Pavel Kuhn (3), Jarmila Hladikova (soprano) – (4), Marie Mrazova (contralto) – (5), Emil Leichner and Jan Vrana – (piano) – (6).
recorded in the Domovina Studio, Prague, 22nd August, 1965, (2), Rudolfinum, Prague, 1st – 5th December 1975 (1) and 9th – 20th March 1978 (1, 4, 5 & 6), and at the Jan Nepomucky Church, Prague on the 20th – 23rd July, 1976 (1) . DDD
SUPRAPHON SU 3114-2 [72.05]


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These performances have been issued before in various guises, and Supraphon is releasing them in a series of Czech Choral Pieces. We have already had Smetana and Janαček collections on disc, and this one brings together some choral works of Dvořαk, Foerster and Suk.

Dvorak wrote his five choruses entitled "In Nature’s Realm" (not to be confused with the overture of the same title), were set to the texts of poet Viteslav Halek (1835 – 1874). They are simple works but ones which were unmistakably produced by a master, given their invention and wealth of contrasts. They are performed by the Kuhn mixed choir and sound delightful – well worth an outing.

Joseph Bohuslav Foerster is the least well known composer on this disc, but none the worse for that. The majority of his output was choral, and the works on this disc give a fair example of his style. Here we have his Czech Song, a sombre piece which works extremely well. The choir here (the Prague Philharmonic Choir) sings accurately and harmoniously making quite a moving effect. Next, come excerpts from his Nine Male Choruses. On this disc, only three are presented, and it is a shame that all could not have been recorded. As the same occurs with the next piece, Get Up Sleepers, where only three of the choruses is included. Given that Foerster wrote approximately 300 choral works, it is obvious that the contents on this disc only scratch at the surface of this composer. A word of caution – on my pressing, there were a couple of disfiguring spits at the beginning of track 4, about half a minute in, so check before you buy, that your copy is not similarly affected.

Moving on to Suk, we have here two collection of songs – Three Songs of 1889 and a further 10 Songs of 1899, this time, given in their entirety, unlike the Foerster collection. The first is for unaccompanied chorus, and the second set for chorus plus piano for four hands, plus in two of them, additional parts for solo singers (Fairies – soprano solo, and I Wish they Knew – for solo soprano and solo contralto) adding to the attractiveness of the sound.

A very interesting release, which should give immense pleasure to fans of choral music, looking for something different, but not too different.

John Phillips

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