Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|FIBICH, Sejna, Cpo|
Symphonies 1 2 & 3
M. V. Sanderford | Danville, VA USA | 04/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Karel Sejna, one of the world's most underrated conductors, had a special affinity for warm romantic works. His Supraphon recordings of the three symphonies of Fibich from the 1950's, were the first recordings of these works, and have not been surpassed. The Supraphon remakes with Vronsky and Belohlavek of the 1st and 3rd symphonies respectively were not especially distinguished, and the Jarvi/Detroit Symphony performances were done with what must be the least appropriate orchestra in the world for these works. The Mongrelia performances on Naxos, except for some tempo miscalculations, are actually pretty good but still don't attain the degree of richness and ardor found in these recordings.
For ARDOR is what is needed to put these works across. In the early 1890's Fibich fell in love with Anezka Schulzova, his composition pupil, 18 years his junior. The passion of this attachment apparently never cooled. For the rest of his life, he churned out piano pieces depicting all aspects of their relationship, including detailed descriptions of all parts of her body. Themes from these sketches were plowed into his subsequent works including his 2nd Symphony. (Perhaps someday, someone will publish a topographical map of his late works!) Anyway, these symphonies sing - of nature, joy, and love. Sejna excelled at just this type of music, and his conducting, coupled with the uniquely sweet and rustic sound that the Czech Philharmonic was producing in the 50's makes this an essential set. Admittedly, the sound of these performances is not up current digital standards: only the 3rd Symphony is in stereo, but the honest mono of the other two is clear and clean enough to allow total enjoyment of the great music-making that is going on here. Don't hesitate; this is the perfect set for spring-time listening."
4.5 stars: authoritative performances of Fibich's major orch
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 08/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Zdenek Fibich (1850-1900) occupies the same role in Czech music Mendelssohn occupies in German music; each were 19th century romantics that were considered under the radar of the giants of their respective eras. Fibich is rarely recognized as a peer to Dvorak and Smetana even though the quality of his work, as exposed on this magnificant set of recordings, is universally high, always imaginative, excessively Czech in origin, and naturally enjoyable for anyone that likes the other Czech composers mentioned here. On the basis of this demonstartion, Fibich's romanticism probably exceeds his predecessors.
Fibich did not advance the cause of Czech nationalism as did Dvorak and, especially, Smetana, and it is possible his musical reputation suffered for that reason. While he neither composed anything as national as Smetana's "Ma Vlast" or anything as international as Dvorak's "New World" symphony, his work in the orchestral realm meets the benchmarks of universal high romance tinged with Czech national language.
Fibich composed five symphonies, two of which were early in life when he had not mastered the medium. The contents of these two CDs demonstrate his growth in the symphonic and orchestral spheres. Disk 1 includes the Symphony No. 1 in F Major, Op. 17, "At Twilight", Op. 39, a tone poem, and "A Springtime Tale" OP. 23, a cantata for orchestra and two soloists.
The first symphony, to which the notes cite a certain relation to the Schumann "Spring" symphony, is essentially vigorous and consistently upbeat in language reminiscent of Dvorak and Smetana. The quarter-hour tone poem "At Twilight" which the notes call his masterpiece, begins reflectively and rises in a romantic arc, subsiding to a pastoral second subject in strings and woodwind. It modulates to a love theme, first in the orchestra then in the cello and flute, and moves to a quiet ending befitting the time of day it recites. "A Springtime Tale" is a 14-minute oratorio about a magician, his mighty cudgel, ancient ice, warm breezes, and the end of gloomy winter in sweet May. It is expertly sung by soprano Drahmoira Tikalova and bass Karel Kalas and is representative of the 30-year-old composer's romance.
Disk 2 comprises the Symphonies No. 2 and 3, which most think are the comopser's masterpieces. The symphonies both expand ideas first conceived in the composer's piano score "Moods, Impressions and Reminiscences".
Symphony 2 in E flat major, Op. 38, was the composer's self-described product of his love to Anezka Schulzova. Compared to the Symphony 1, sophisiticated development is apparent from the first notes of the opening allegro moderato, which is stately and has some tendency to meander before giving way to an adagio. The scherzo, one of the composer's most well-known pieces, is jubilant and delightfully articulated by conductor and orchestra. The finale, allegro energetico, begins as close kin to the finale of Glazunov's Symphony No. 5. I had the sense, listening to this symphony, that the composer did not know how to end the opening and closing movements.
There was no such question in the Symphony No. 3 in E minor, Op. 53, which for me is Fibich's masterpiece. Its opening allegro inquieto begins with the temparament of Dvorak's 7th Symphony, another minor key creation, and modulates to major key during the development section. A borad second movement opens allegro but is too warm and wonderful for such a marking, ending in sustained lyric adagio. A jubliant conclusion first in allegro maestoso and later marked allegro vivace, concludes this very Dvoarkian symphony.
Listeners that have tried Fibich and find him too much like Dvorak for their taste will have more ammunition to fire if they purchase this box. Everyone else will find a solid third voice among Czech 19th century romantics whose music is not far away from the worlds of Smetana and Schumann.
The playing, by the Czech Philharmonic under the direction of Karel Sejna, is masterly throughout. The recordings were made from 1950-61 and only the Symphony No. 3 is in stereo, so audiophiles may want to exhibit this before purchasing. The mono recordings from 1950-51 are a marvel for their time, with excellent frequency response and orchestral detail.
Sejna (1896-1982) is from a long line of idiomatic interpreters of Czech music with this orchestra and his work cannot be bettered in this repertoire even thought he likes of Jarvi and Belohlavek have tried. Naxos also recently entered the Fibich sweepstakes with a recording of Symphonies 1 and 2. None can top this one."