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Vitezslav Novak - Slovak Suite, In the Tatra Mountains, Eternal Longing

Posted By: dino63
Vitezslav Novak - Slovak Suite, In the Tatra Mountains, Eternal Longing

Vitezslav Novak - Slovak Suite, In the Tatra Mountains, Eternal Longing
FLAC+Cue+Log | Scans | 1 CD | 263 Mb
Classical | Virgin Classics | 1997
Conductor: Libor Pesek
Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
This CD is a reissue of an out-of-print or otherwise generally unavailable recording.

Mountains and mysticism go together. As classicist and anthropologist Walter Burkert notes in his study of "Greek Religion," the Neolithic and Bronze Ages left mountaintop altars all across Anatolia, the Balkans, and the islands and mainland of Greece The practice continued into the historical period. Altitude brought one closer to the Sky God, apparently, whether one called him Teshub as among the Hittites, Zeus as among the Greeks, or Pernunos as among the Scythians, those ancestors of the Slavs. Thus Liszt ("Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne"), d'Indy ("Un jour d'été à la montagne"), Delius ("Song of the high Hills"), and Strauss ("Ein Alpensinfonie") - like Nietzsche's Zarathustra - all discover a common theophany in the elevation of a dolomitic scene. So too does that odd man out among the successors of Dvorák in Czech music, Vitêszlav Novák (1870-1949) in his tone-poem "In the Tatras" (1902), the first item on Libor Pešek's Virgin CD of three of that composer's orchestral scores. Novák's sumptuous orchestration, the vividness of his episodes, the quiet sublimity of his finale all contribute to the effectiveness of the composition. Pešek understands that "In the Tatras" contains moments of darkness but that its mood conforms generally to that of optimism. He works up the snowstorm midway through to a real blizzard and then settles into the serenity of the last section, with its Delius-like absorption of the human subject into the great landscape about him. "Eternal Longing" (1903/04) takes its cues from H. C. Andersen's story of the same name and explores a phenomenon at the very core of the Romantic conception of art: The paradox of desire, the yearning of the soul for the very thing that lies, at last, beyond its reach, but which signifies a fuller, a sweeter, world than this one in which Fate decrees that we should dwell. The opening shows Novák borrowing a few stock gestures from Debussy's impressionism: Namely, the string-undulations over harp-glissandi - moonlight on the water, in standard musical iconography. (Andersen's story invokes this image.) From this beginning, Novák develops a lengthy Tristanesque passage dominated mostly by the strings but breaking into the full orchestra at its climax; the pealing of the main theme in the horns is quite thrilling, after which calmer music for a time prevails. Novák repeats this basic pattern, a slow buildup to a sustained climax followed by dénouement, three times in the course of the work's twenty minutes or so. The "Slovak Suite" (1903) belongs much more to the Smetana-Dvorák school, drawing as it does on obvious folk-sources. This has always been the most current of Novák's orchestral works. Pešek has transferred his recording activity to Chandos, who have just issued another trio of Novák's orchestral works ("Lady Godiva," "Tomán and the Wood Nymph," and "De Profundis"); the two discs constitute a set despite their separate producers. "In the Tatras" and "Eternal Longing" also appear together on a Supraphon CD conducted by Karel Sejna. I give Pešek the edge. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic turns in velvety smooth performances.
Thomas F. Bertonneau