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Novak: Slovak Suite / Pesek, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Release Date: 06/10/1997 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 45251   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Vitezslav Novák
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Libor Pesek’s latest Slavonic excursion with the RLPO for Virgin Classics will surely win many new friends for the music of Dvorak-pupil, Vitezslav Novak (1870-1949). Aided by luminous, supremely affectionate orchestral playing and rich, beautifully refined sound, the Slovak Suite (1903) creates a delightful impression here – but then again, given its wealth of glorious melody and felicitous orchestral colour how could it not? Pesek’s unhurried manner imparts a stately, glowing dignity to the opening “At Church”, while the ensuing “Children’s Scene” goes with refreshing snap and clean-limbed vigour. Elsewhere, the ravishing portrait of “The Lovers” is sweetly drawn, evincing a gentle, unaffected ardour that is most touching, “The Ball” Read more nicely combines earthiness and humour, and the concluding “The Night” has exactly the right sense of wide-eyed, pantheistic wonder and fragrant tenderness. Enthusiasts won’t need reminding just how good both current comparative versions are, especially Karel Sejna’s irresistibly tangy Brno account (this great conductor’s very last recording, made in 1968 during Dubcek’s short-lived Prague Spring). I wouldn’t necessarily state that Pesek’s new account is capable of activating the tear-ducts to quite the same degree as do Sejna’s or Talich’s, but it remains a thoroughly pleasing achievement all the same.

The symphonic poems In the Tatra Mountains and Eternal Longing date from 1902 and 1904 respectively. Both inhabit a headily evocative, neo-Straussian landscape – indeed, it’s remarkable just how much of the former strikingly pre-echoes An Alpine Symphony (and how, for that matter, the first couple of minutes recall the opening of Mahler’s First Symphony). Of the two, Eternal Longing is the more visionary and subtly coloured; its slightly earlier partner, on the other hand, displays the stronger melodic profile and more satisfying formal ruggedness. Throughout, Novak’s orchestral command is total and both works are undoubtedly superior examples of fin de siecle decadence which many listeners will lap up. Collectors will, of course, always cherish Sejna’s marvellous Czech PO performances from 1966, but Pesek all but matches his countryman’s formidable interpretative prowess (I enjoyed the extra sense of peril and drama he brings to the central portion of In the Tatra Mountains). Moreover, the admirable Liverpool orchestra respond with all the freshness and enthusiasm of new discovery. A very desirable CD. Now, I wonder whether Pesek could be persuaded to turn his attentions to Novak’s large-scale ‘sea fantasy’, The Storm (1908-10)?

-- Gramophone

This recording received a 1998 "Critic's Choice" award from Gramophone magazine. Read less

Works on This Recording

Moravian-Slovak Suite, Op. 32 by Vitezslav Novák
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Bohemia 
In the Tatras, Op. 26 by Vitezslav Novák
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; Bohemia 
Eternal Longing, Op. 33 by Vitezslav Novák
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Bohemia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Gorgeous late romantic December 8, 2012 By J. Wallace-Smith (Charlottesville, VA) See All My Reviews "If you have not heard the Slovak Suite, I would urge you to listen to this beautiful piece by a late romantic composer who displays a deep spirituality. Pesek and the RLPO deliver a wonderful performance and the Virgin recording is first-rate." Report Abuse
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