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SUK, JOSEF Asrael, Op. 27. Sudwestfunk-Orchester Baden-Baden / Karel. SWR Music

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Suk Josef Asrael Op 27 Sudwestfunk-Orchester Baden-Baden Karel Swr Music

KAREL ANCERL CONDUCTS
JOSEF SUK’S ASRAEL, OP. 27


JOSEF SUK (1874–1935)
Asrael, Op. 27
Teil I | Part I
1 I Andante sostenuto
2 II Andante
3 III Vivace
Teil II | Part II
4 IV Adagio
5 V Adagio e maestoso

IŠA KREJCI (1904–1968)
Serenata für Orchester
6 I Allegro
7 II Andante quasi Allegretto
8 III Presto

Südwestfunk-Orchester Baden-Baden / Karel Ancerl

Conductor Karel Ancerl's reputation is due mainly to his success in quickly establishing the Czech Philharmonic as one of the world’s most eminent and successful orchestras. In May 1967, one year before the political development in Czechoslovakia forced him to abandon his homeland, Karel Ancerl was invited to conduct the Südwestfunk broadcasting station's symphony orchestra in Baden-Baden. With limited time available, he recorded both Josef Suk's Asrael Symphony and Iša Krejcí's Serenata for Orchestra, two works that could hardly be more contrasted: a double memorial work, and an entertaining showpiece full of joie de vivre. The recording of Suk’s Asrael is especially significant; Ancerl had never previously recorded it, despite it being one of the most important works in the Czech orchestral repertoire. A live recording with Ancerl and the Cleveland Orchestra is making the rounds of collectors’ circles, yet this is the first legal release of him conducting the symphony. Josef Suk (1874–1935) was the outstanding composer of his generation. He had studied in Antonín Dvorák’s composition class at the Prague conservatory during the years 1891/92 and fell in love with Dvorák’s daughter, Otilie (1878-1905) while Dvorák was in New York (1892-95).

They married on November 17, 1898. When Dvorák died on May 1, 1904, Suk was in the midst of composing his tone poem Prague, which he completed in the following months. During this time, he decided to write a (second) “symphony with a tragic character” in memory of his father-in-law. He began, but in the middle of the process, on 5 July 1905, his young wife died of heart disease. He then fell ill himself and, after his recovery, wrote two new movements in memory of Otilie, completing them respectively on January 3 and April 30. The title of the work, Asrael, refers to the angel of death anchored largely in the folk mythology of Shi’ite Islam, who separates the soul from the body by order of Allah. Iša Krejcí (1904–1968) demonstrates in the entertaining Serenata that he was an extremely well-versed humorist with a deeper side and, in the strings-only middle movement, an enchanting tone poet. Karel Ancerl applies unerring, tasteful touches to whip up the orchestra into a mischievously virtuoso tur de force.

Digitally remastered from the original SWR tapes.

This is the only available official recording of Karel An cerl conducting Josef Suk’s Asrael.

The Czech conductor has a deep connection with his compatriot's music.

Asrael is central to Josef Suk’s oeuvre and an outstanding work in the Czech music repertoire.

Asrael was composed as a double remembrance: of Suk’s father-in-law, Antonìn Dvorák; and Suk’s beloved wife (and Dvorák’s daughter) Otilie, both of whom died within a short period of time.

SWR Music SWR19055CD

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