Still the standard in this repertoire
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 06/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most conservative organizations still vote for Josef Suk's version of the Dvorak concerto as the best and this is the most recent packaging of that concerto. I've owned it on LP, cassette an now CD and continue to hear more in the Suk version, with wonderful accompaniment by Ancerl and the Czech Philharmonic, than in other recordings I've heard.
The reproduction here is stalwart but hardly state of the art by today's standards. Some of this is the 1960ish engineering and some of it is the darkness and mammoth dimensions of the Czech Philharmonic hall in Prague. Whatever, it produces a sound that is nice but clouds details and misses some instruments in the orchestra.
For artistry, this version is without peer. Suk's consistently sweet playing is matched by a cultured and sensitive accompaniment from Ancerl, always portraying the ebb and tide of emotion as the music unfolds.
What is especially wonderful is the way Suk and Ancerl hand off the main themes to each other, then support each other as the soloist and orchestra, respectively, become dominant. Each entry of a single instrument carrying the theme is exquisitely well done. This helps diminish the episodic nature of this concerto, whose first two movements are essentially one long movement wtihout a break.
There are bound to be better-sounding versions of this music available and some critics will ignore this old version and promote newer ones. That was the case when Pamela Frank's version came out a few years back. A lot was made of her native Czech feel in the music, not to mention her father, another esteemed musician.
Still, the Suk-Ancerl collaboration carries the day in perfect artistry on this music. For the price they're asking you can't go much wrong with this recording.
I'd have liked to see them link the concerto to something more substantial than the Dvoark & Suk fillers that inhabit this CD, but that is a minor complaint. On the plus side, the packaging creates a strong recommendation for those seeking more from the composer and the elder Suk."