Nedbal may not be all that well known to you. Certainly until I auditioned
this disc I had not heard anything by him. I had noticed a Supraphon disc
some years ago but had not bothered to explore it. On this showing he is
to be recognised and appreciated as a fine light music composer to be spoken
of in the same breath as the British composers Eric Coates, Coleridge Taylor,
Montague Phillips and Albert Ketèlbey.
Nedbal is remembered as the Czech Johann Strauss. He was born in Tabor in
South Bohemia and wrote seven operettas, five ballets, marches, polkas and
waltzes. He studied under Dvorak and his fellow pupils included Vitezlav
Novak and Josef Suk. Like Suk, Nedbal joined the Bohemian Quartet and remained
with them from 1891 to 1906. He also conducted the mainstream as well as
Fibich, Novak and Suk. His last years were spent in Bratislava as conductor
of the Slovakian city's radio orchestra and the National Theatre.
The first two works are for violin and orchestra. Romance sings over
a rocking rhythm in the nature of a serenade rather like Tchaikovsky's
Souvenir d'un Lieu Cher. The soloist, Vladislav Linetzky, continues
with a Serenade which is more of the same but a littleless languid. This
is much more attractive as an essay similar to the Havanaise by
Saint-Saens. This is all done with great poise. and accompanied with restraint
and poetic insight by Bostock and the Carlsbaders. Both works date from 1893.
The waltz Forest Bells is winningly faltering and yet sumptuous with
romantic aspiration: all lanterns and perpetual twilight. A Tchaikovskian
The Scherzo Capriccioso (1892) is very Dvorakian but with dramatic
moments out of Schumann. The string tone of the orchestra is not all it should
be though I have heard far worse. It is Dvorak's Symphonic Variations
rather than his identically named 1883 work. which are recalled by the Nedbal
work. This is Nedbal's most ambitious 'serious' orchestral composition.
With a title like Suite Mignonne Nedbal's 1902-3 work it will come
as no surprise to you to hear that this work belongs to the cavernously deep
heritage of salon music. It began life as Aus dem Kinderleben for
solo piano. This is very Viennese hesitant dance music.
Czech Polka is and unnervingly unison Scottish string music.
The soulful Romance for cello and orchestra (1899) has the impassioned
inner qualities of Frank Bridge's suite for cello and orchestra -
Die Keutsche Barbara (The Chaste Barbara), apparently one of Nedbal's
best operettas, was premiered in Vienna in 1911. The music is light, charming,
relaxed - Brahmsian like something from the Hungarian Dances. However here
the intonation of the strings began to show up as deficient under pressure.
There is a thin quality to the string sound which is out of keeping with
music which was clearly written for the sumptuous plush of a great string
section. Nevertheless the spirit is well caught by the orchestra. Bostock's
great eloquence sweeps away small reservations about string sound. (4:53).
Die Winzerbraut Overture (1916) (The Winegrower's Bride) sounds very
southern (Italian or Spanish perhaps). The operetta was premiered in Vienna
These two overtures whet the appetite for a CD entirely devoted to Nedbal's
operetta overtures. On this evidence they are sparkling examples of the genre.
Good sleeve notes by Mogens Wenzel Andreason. Suitable art-deco style cover
art. I wish the font chosen for the text had been one which was easier to
The disc claims to include world premiere recordings but does not say which
of the 12 pieces featured fall into this category.
In summary a fine collection but with some of the gloss taken off by the
occasional orchestral shortcomings. Bostock however seems utterly committed
to the music and it lacks nothing in lively poetry. The sole problem is the
orchestra or parts of it - notably the violins. Perhaps more rehearsal time
would have helped.
Orchestral blemishes notwithstanding this seems a good introduction to the
composer's music. Recommended for those whose palates have become jaded by
the waltzing Strausses but who would like to explore other composers active
in that field.