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CHAN 5081
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CHAN 5081

Suk: Ripening/ Symphony No. 1

The Classical Shop
release date: September 2010

Recorded in 24 Bit / 48Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2009


BBC Symphony Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek

New London Chamber Choir


Watford Colosseum


Brian Pidgeon


Ralph Couzens

Jonathan Cooper


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 78:03
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Ripening, Op. 34 (JSkat 70) (1912-17)

  Symphonic Poem for Large Orchestra  
1 Adagio, quasi Andanye - Tempo I, ma pochettino più tranquillo - 8:19
2 Poco allegro inquieto e poco rubato - Poco allegro, con 3:15
  moto -  
3 Adagio - Animato e grazioso - Adagio, molto espressivo ed appassionato - 4:54
4 Più tranquillo - A tempo (quasi Allegro) - Poco più animato - 6:41
5 Allegro (l'istesso tempo) - Più Animato - 5:29
6 A tempo (Tempo di Fuga) - Andante con moto e maestoso - 4:28
7 Adagio e sempre tranquillo - Quasi l'istesso tempo, ma un pochettino più animato (Adagio quasi Andante) - 4:55
  James Weeks musical director  

Symphony No. 1, Op. 14 (JSkat 40) (1897-99)

  in E major - in E-Dur - en mi majeur  
8 I Allegro, ma non troppo - Allegro - Energico e con fuoco - 11:24
9 II Adagio - Pochettino più mosso - Molto appassionato - Tempo I 9:42
10 III Allegro vivace - Poco meno mosso - Tempo I 6:28
11 IV Allegro - Allegro con brio - Meno mosso e molto largamente - 12:28

The Czech maestro Jirí Belohlávek performs works by his countryman Josef Suk, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with whom he is their Chief Conductor.
As a composer, Josef Suk followed in the tradition of Smetana and Dvorák, the latter of whom was not only his professor at the Prague Conservatory, but also became his father-in-law – Suk married Dvorák’s oldest surviving daughter, Otilie, in 1898, and the death of Dvorák in 1904 and ‘Otilka’ a year later resulted in the composition of one of the composer’s most powerful and deeply felt works, the Asrael Symphony – also recorded by Belohlávek (CHAN 9640).
Like Novák – another key Dvorák pupil – Suk fully embraced his national background, composing in a late romantic style imbued with his individual approach to impressionism and native folk culture.
Following the success of his Serenade in E flat, Suk wished to take up the challenge of writing a symphony, influenced as he was by the contributions to the genre of his own teacher, and of Brahms. Suk’s First Symphony was actually begun in London in 1897 and completed two years later. This new CD provides an excellent opportunity to hear the rarely recorded early work, with its fresh melodic appeal and inventive orchestration.
Ripening is one of the composer’s masterpieces, a highly colourful and superbly sustained symphonic poem, brilliantly orchestrated, with a chorus making its wordless contribution at the work’s late, emotional highpoint. Suk said of Ripening: ‘I worked on this composition for almost five years. In its very cohesive musical form you will find all degrees of human emotions. In this piece I immerse myself once more into the joys and tragic shadows of life but towards the end I emphasise, in the large fugue, that work is the liberator. After a large and passionate build-up of tension and excitement, towards the end a deep calm arrives in which, however, shimmers a hymn of affirmation and life.’

“...It’s the best reading of the work [The Ripening] I’ve heard... The orchestra plays its heart out, leader Anna Coleman in particular handling her extreme high solos in ‘The Ripening’ with skill and sweetness.”

Don O’Connor – American Music Guide – March/April 2011

"Belohlávek has long been an advocate of Josef Suk’s music and this CD underscores that devotion... This kaleidoscopic score demands virtuoso playing and it certainly receives it here...this is an impressive addition to the already impressive Suk canon."

Greg Keane - Limelight Magazine  19 January 2011

“…the SACD sound is the best Chandos has achieved in its highlighting of detail and texture – Ripening has never sounded better on disc …”

Richard Whitehouse

International Record Review - November 2010

                “Gramophone Recommends”
“A marvellous tone-poem and an early symphony from the creator of Asrael” “… proves a worthy addition to an admirable Suk series.”

Rob Cowan

The Gramophone - November 2010

                      Disc of the Month
              Performance *****      Recording *****

Jan Smaczny

BBC Music Magazine - November 2010

“There is danger that one will tire of praising Chandos for its exploration of the less-familiar byways of the repertoire … but not yet. This is quite the most coruscating reading of Suk’s orchestral masterpiece Ripening that one is likely to hear – with a forensically detailed recording that matches the exemplary performance."

Barry Forshaw 

29 September 2010

’...Belohlavek inspires the BBCSO to a blazing performance.’  ****

Geoffrey Norris


The Telegraph - 4 September 2010

C Ruthsby

K Green

I bought the 24/96 download and was a little disappointed after the cd/sacd reviews. The recording is indeed detailed, most are these days, but the perspective is very distant, further back than the usual mid-hall, so a high level is needed if the impact of the orchestra is not to disappoint. Even so, the dynamic range is not as wide as it could be (nowhere near as dramatic as the BBC Phil's Studio 7 tapings, eg David Mathews Music of Dawn and the Liszt tone poems, both on 24/96). So no recommendation from me I'm afraid, especially since the music itself is less memorable than Suk's Asrael Symphony, which seems to me his only true masterpiece.
J Wilson