One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Spring, Op.22a (1902) [16:39]
Summer Impressions, Op.22b (1902) [13:29]
Piano Pieces, Op.7 (1891-93) [25:29]
Moods, Op.10 (1894-95) [20:59]
Jonathan Plowright (piano)
rec. 2017, Potton Hall, Suffolk
HYPERION CDA68198 [76:38]

I hope the days have long passed when Suk’s piano music was considered recondite, but it is slightly surprising, to me at least, that Jonathan Plowright should explore this repertoire. On disc one associates him with the romantic concerto – say Aleksander Zarzycki – or with Brahms’s solo piano music, and hyphenated Bach, so it’s welcome that he has selected four of Suk’s sets.

Gone, too, are the days when this was music stamped ‘Made and Performed in the Czech Lands’. Naxos’ disc, for example, performed by Risto Lauriala (8.553762), offers a similar looking programme to the extent that it too offers Opp. 7 and 10. But Plowright resist the lure of About Mother, Op.28 preferring the two Op.22 sets.

Plowright is an ardent romanticist in these works. His playing of the five-movement Jaro (Spring) is full of combustible animation and he is even faster in the opening section than Igor Ardašev on Supraphon and very much faster than the more reflective Lada Valešová on Avie. But thereafter he lacks Ardašev’s sense of motion in The Breeze, where genuine caprice is lacking, recovering well in the Awaiting central panel because, I sense, he feels a kinship with its somewhat more conventional romantic esprit. The player who perhaps gets closest to the heart of the enigmatic fourth section, marked with three asterisks, is Tomáš Víšek on Arco Diva, whose Bosendörfer sounds a more suitable instrument for this music’s intimacies. There’s no doubting Plowright’s elegant touch however.

In the opus companion, Op.22a, Summer Impressions, Plowright plays with ripe engagement but judged by the highest standards – here I am thinking of Pavel Štěpán – characterisation operates at a less intuitive level. There’s less torpor in Stepan’s reading of At noon and Plowright’s phrasing is altogether too gawky in Children at play. There’s a lack of idiomatic flow in the longest of the three pieces, Evening Mood, in which Suk dusts down reminiscences of his Greatest Hit, Píseň lásky. That famous piece first appeared in his Op.7 pieces and Plowright plays it with directness and athleticism but with sufficient sentiment too. That said, I prefer Ardašev’s performance of the first Idyll for its greater crispness though Plowright’s Dumka is suitably declamatory.

Plowright tries just too hard in the Op.10 Capriccio – it needs the deadpan wit of a Štěpán to do justice to this - but in general I liked his reading of Op.10 best of all. He marries tonal amplitude with fresh-voiced affection and this, coupled with a cast-iron technique, ensures things go well.

As for the recording quality, his powerful Steinway sometimes, as suggested, lacks something in true intimacy of expression. These are, to some extent, more overtly extrovert performances than one often finds from Czech performers. And if, in the final analysis, there are elements here that betray a lack of lived experience with the repertoire and its capricious and quicksilver nature, I found these eminently likeable performances and am sure Plowright will bring a new audience to Suk.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Stephen Greenbank



 




Advertising on
Musicweb



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

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
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger