One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Asrael - Symphony in C minor op. 27 (1906) [62:09]
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
rec. Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, April 2008. DSD.
ONDINE ODE1132-5 [61:32]
Experience Classicsonline

Ashkenazy here essays one of the great monuments of turn of the century late-romanticism and does so with poignant success.
Suk's five-movement Asrael Symphony is shot through with tragedy. First: the death of Dvořák, his father-in-law; then a year or so later, the death of Dvořák's daughter, Suk's young wife, Otylka.
The iconic recording of Asrael is that made by Talich in mono in the early 1950s. That's the version by which I came to know the work via a pensioned-off reel-to-reel Grundig on which I had taken down a then very rare broadcast in the early 1970s off BBC Radio 3.  That recording from Supraphon is still available - now in the Talich Gold series – and is very special. Talich puts the music across most vividly. It has vulnerable tenderness, eerie tension and a thundering account of inimical fate. The music is core Suk - he has a special bittersweet sound - somewhere subtly other - a supernatural world torn between Mahler and Berlioz.
Some people cannot stand Asrael and can finding nothing gripping in it. For me it is vital in the repertoire – a work that I heard in concert (1998, Liverpool) courtesy of Libor Pesek and the RLPO and for years before that had played many times on tape and CD. I have tried to keep up with the competing versions ever since and am only sorry to have missed out on the Russian Disk version by Svetlanov and the USSRSO. We must hope that either Regis or Svet or Warner will revive the Svetlanov.
Ashkenazy and the Helsinki orchestra give Asrael vitality and pulse. This provides a grip lacking to same degree in the Pesek and Petrenko (CPO). Theirs is a generous and sumptuous recording. It's the finest it has had to date. The performance is one which I have found constantly rewarding for its eldritch phantasms, its magnificence marbled with sorrow, its heroic determination and its winged delivery. Try the grunted and gruff interleave of the rest of the brass benches with the trumpets at the end of the third movement.
I reviewed this as a standard CD not as an SACD.
The fine notes are by notable Czech music authority Jan Smaczny.
The field is not crowded and - historic Talich aside - this stands as the very best of the modern recordings.
Rob Barnett


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.