> EMI Great Conductors : Talich [JP]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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  Founder: Len Mullenger

Georg BENDA (1722 - 1795)

Symphony for String Orchestra in B Flat major,
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841 - 1904)

The Water Goblin, Op. 107 – (1896)
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (From the New World), Op. 95 – (1893)
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854 - 1928)

The Cunning Little Vixen: Suite arr. by Vaclav Talich, from the opera – (1924)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)

Symphony No 33 in B Flat, K319 – (1779)
Vitezslav NOVÁK (1870 - 1949)

Moravian–Slovak Suite: Amorous Couple, Op. 32 – (1903)
Bedrich SMETANA (1824 - 1884)

Prague Carnival – Introduction and Polonaise (1883)
Sarka (1875) – from Ma Vlast
Josef SUK (1874 - 1935)

Serenade for String Orchestra, Op. 6 – (1892)
Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 - 1893)

Suite No. 4 in G (Mozartiana), Op. 61 - (1887)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra (Tchaikovsky only), conducted by Vaclav Talich.
recorded in Studio Domovina, Prague, 30/3/54 – (Benda), Rudolfinum, Prague, 19-21/2/51 – (Suk), June/53 – (Prague Carnival and Novak), 13/4/54 – (Janacek), 10/6/54 – (Sarka), 28-30/9/54 – (New World), Smetana Hall, Prague, 17/5/54 – (Water Goblin), 9/6/54 – (Mozart) both live, Bratislava, 1951 – (Tchaikovsky). MONO
Volume 24 in the Great Conductor Series. In association with IMG Artists
EMI CLASSICS CZS5 75483-2 [157.20]


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We have, in Vaclav Talich, a real "Great Conductor". It is a great shame that, due to restrictions placed upon him by the Czech Government after the Second World War, we have less of his recorded history than many others.

Talich was largely responsible for the reputation that the Czech Philharmonic has today, strengthened and polished by his successors, Kubelik and Ančerl. Talich was appointed in 1918. By 1924 he was taking the orchestra on concert tours, to let music lovers hear what a superb instrument the Czech Philharmonic had become. After the war, when he was out in the cold, he operated out of Bratislava, where he founded the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, and while not endangering the reputation of the "Phil", the Slovak Orchestra became a formidable band. In the featured excerpt from the Tchaikovsky Suite No. 4, we have an opportunity to hear what he could achieve from this then three year old ensemble.

Most of the recordings on this two disc set are from his last years, after he was rehabilitated, and at last allowed to perform in front of the Prague music lovers. The recordings are largely done in the Rudolfinum, Prague’s premier orchestral venue. The hall provides a lovely acoustic forming a halo over the sound. That halo has become a Supraphon hallmark over the years.

The only disappointment in this set is the recording of Mozart’s Symphony No. 33. Although the performance is fine, the live recording was not done with the same care as the others, and the sound is a bit primitive. This is very strange, as the performance of Sarka, made on the day after is a totally different experience. The sound quality there is quite acceptable and the performance is stunning.

All of the remaining performances have been in and out of the catalogue over the years, and it is very satisfying to be able to welcome them back again. I very much hope that this set will have a long-term presence in the catalogue. With something this good, it would be criminal if these tapes were to become unavailable again.

My particular favourites in this collection are the New World (a performance to match the later Ančerl, also on Supraphon, but in stereo), The Cunning Little Vixen Suite – prepared by the conductor in order to publicise the opera and to evangelise it among music lovers, and the Serenade for Strings by Josef Suk. The joy in the playing is infectious and if you like hearing the Czech Philharmonic in its home repertoire and hall, you will be absolutely delighted with this issue. If you are a period performance addict, you will be turned off somewhat by the Georg Benda Symphony, as at the time of recording, not much scholarly work had been done on this repertoire. However, nearly all of the remainder of the programme is as period accurate as you could wish.

The Czech Philharmonic of the day had its folk rhythms and rustic Czech woodwind style absolutely in character and in the blood. You could not wish for a more authentic feel for this repertoire than we get here.

Full marks to EMI (and IMG) for this issue which should be of important interest to all who do not already possess these recordings in earlier releases.

John Phillips

EMI Great Conductors of the 20th Century


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