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  • Josef Suk: A Summer's Tale, A Winter's Tale
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Josef Suk: A Summer's Tale, A Winter's Tale


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Audio CD, July 11, 1995
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Libor Pesek
  • Composer: Josef Suk
  • Audio CD (July 11, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin Classics
  • ASIN: B00000DNFB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,717 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. A Summer's Tale, Op.29: I. Voices Of Life And Consolation
2. A Summer's Tale, Op.29: II. Noon
3. A Summer's Tale, Op.29: III. Intermezzo - Blind Musicians
4. A Summer's Tale, Op.29: IV. In The Power Of Phantoms
5. A Summer's Tale, Op.29: V. Night

Customer Reviews

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mogulmeister on December 7, 2006
How is it that Josef Suk's music is not part of the standard repertory? The Asrael Symphony is magnificent and deeply moving (the Behlolavek/Czech Philharmonic performance is the one to get), and A Summer's Tale, which followed Asrael in composition, is no less wonderful. First, this should be called a symphony, not a suite. It is symphonic in scope and content. Second, pay no attention to the titles of the movements--they are about as relevant as Bruckner's title "Romantic" for his 4th symphony. This is music about coping with loss, and to call it "moving" almost diminishes its power. The ending of "A Summer's Tale" is magical, ethereal, and deeply moving, all at the same time. Of the 3 versions of this work I've heard (in addition to Mackerras/Decca and Mogrelia/Naxos), this is a clear first choice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MartinP on February 9, 2008
I share the previous reviewer's incomprehension of the fact that this music is so little known and so rarely played. The astonishing `Summer tale' comprises some of the most beautiful sounds ever extracted from a symphony orchestra, and its otherworldly ending must surely count among the most stunning in all of music. This piece casts an extraordinary spell and haunts me for days after every time I listen to it. Think of an exact midpoint between Dvorak and Mahler and you might get some idea what to expect, though Suk is in fact completely original and inhabits a soundworld entirely his own.

Summer Tale is cast in five movements with descriptive titles, through which a motto theme with a distinctly Eastern European turn winds its way. The first movement is mainly concerned with the exposition of the core material. In between the signature sounds of much divided low strings and mysterious, distant fanfares it develops into a kind of shadowy waltz. The second movement brilliantly evokes the stagnant heat of a summer noon, a lazy march tune in the clarinet meandering along over high tremolo strings, with only a brief interruption by another distant brass chorale. The highly original third movement is scored almost exclusively for two cors anglais, singing a melancholy canon over a strumming harp accompaniment. The fourth movement is a wild, slightly diabolical scherzo, with short motives whirling by and producing sudden violent outburst. At the very end it calms down over fragments of the motto theme, much as if dawn breaks on a nightmarish scene. The last movement, however, doesn't depict day, but night. It is dedicated in large part to the motto theme and is suffused by a moving peacefulness and a sense of great mystery and gravitas.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve Wyzard on October 13, 2010
"The symphony must be like the world. It must be all-embracing", Gustav Mahler, in conversation with Jean Sibelius

While this work is not a symphony, but more of a symphonic suite, the above quote still says it all. Josef Suk's A Summer's Tale is truly a world unto its own, and is most definitely all-embracing. Like all of the greatest orchestral epics, one is taken on an aural journey, and life as we know it is set aside for the duration. Written after the "Asrael" Symphony (1905-06), a work pre-occupied with death, A Summer's Tale (1907-08) is much more accessible and represents the composer's return to the world of the living, even to the point of being nostalgic and sentimental for a long-departed past. Most will compare his sound-world to those of Mahler or Richard Strauss, yet in spite of the huge orchestral forces involved, it manages to sound like nothing else you've ever heard. This is Josef Suk's greatest work, and the overused word "masterpiece" can be applied without any misgivings or hyperbole.

Opening with a solemn, almost-Brucknerian one note horn call, the first movement, "Voices of Life and Consolation", begins where "Asrael" left off. Lugubrious lower strings slowly add brass and percussion, gather power and energy, and reach a rhythmic climax before fading to an English horn solo. Many commentators have noted the Straussian/Mahlerian development of reiterated themes; one can even hear a foreshadowing of the style that would make Aaron Copland famous. One big theme keeps returning, played on the strings followed by canonic entry of woodwinds. There is a consistent sense of wonder, awe, and timeless history in this motto theme, before the movement closes with an organ-like sonority.
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