JoAnn Falletta

Josef Suk: Fairy Tale; Fantasy in G minor; Fantastic Scherzo

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Coming at the end of the Romantic era, Josef Suk was deeply influenced by the major composers of his day, particularly Johannes Brahms and Antonin Dvorák (who was his father-in-law), and later on by his contemporaries, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Because these influences meshed with Suk's own profound feeling for Czech themes and a melancholy streak in his makeup, his post-Romantic music looks backward toward a lost past, rather than forward to a confrontation with modernism. The Fantasy in G minor, which amounts to a free-form violin concerto in a single movement, is firmly rooted in the tradition of Dvorák, and the brilliant violin solo is played with sparkling bravado by Michael Ludwig. The four-movement Fairy Tale, which began its life as incidental music for the play Radúz a Mahulena by Julius Zeyer, is rich with folk feeling and offers some lush orchestration that plainly owes a debt to Strauss. The Fantastické Scherzo, close in its genesis to the Fantasy, is a mercurial piece that seems to be a blending of the symphonic scherzo with more explicitly Bohemian dance music. It is clearly a descendant of the Slavonic Dances, and reinforces the close personal connection between Suk and Dvorák. These 2010 performances by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra are lively and vibrantly colorful, and Naxos' clear and focused reproduction leaves nothing to the imagination.

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