Josef Spacek / Jiří Bělohlávek / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Dvorák, Suk, Janácek: Violin Concertos

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Listeners may be puzzled on encountering this album to note the presence of violin concertos by Josef Suk, whose freeform violin-and-orchestra work is titled Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra, Op. 24, or still more by Janácek, who never wrote a violin concerto at all. The Janácek work, enchantingly entitled Violin Concerto ("The Wandering of a Little Soul"), was sketched out but never finished and was reconstructed by two Czech musicologists in 1988. This sort of thing doesn't often work out well, but in this case the result is a valuable addition to the repertory: its episodic structure must have been pretty evident from the sketches, and the peppery, festive style of the composer's later works and the distinctive opening solo are effectively done here by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Jiri Belohlávek and their young concertmaster soloist, Josef Spacek. The main attraction, the Dvorák Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 53, is a bit less successful; all the notes are in place, but there's a rather dutiful quality to the music, and the vigorous folk rhythms in the finale don't reach full momentum. The richly lyrical Suk Fantasy is a good demonstration of the classic Czech orchestral style, with a warm, lively sound from both orchestra and soloist. Recommended especially for Janácek devotees.

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