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Benjamin Britten (1913-76)

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Britten: War Requiem

Britten: War Requiem

Recorded at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, Prague, on January 13, 1966 (CD1), May 3, 1958 (CD2/1) and January 17, 1964 (CD2/2-13).


War Requiem, Op. 66

Naděžda Kniplová (soprano), Gerald English (tenor), John Cameron (baritone), Milada Šubrtová (soprano) & Věra Soukupová (alto)

with Prague Philharmonic Choir & Kühn Children’s Chorus

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34

Spring Symphony, Op. 44

in Czech

Beno Blachut (tenor)

Benjamin Britten’s music formed one of the pillars of the Czech Philharmonic’s concert programmes under its chief conductor Karel Ančerl. The famous Variations on a Theme of Purcell was in all likelihood the most frequently performed work (in 1962 also in England), and this CD contains the previously unreleased 1958 recording in the original version without narration. The enchanting and joyous Spring Symphony, commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky, was presented in Czech in Prague by Ančerl, the Czech Philharmonic and the finest soloists of the time. Forming a stark contrast to these two works is the War Requiem, a grand piece commemorating the victims of the most gruesome armed conflict in human history. Britten dedicated it to the memory of four friends of his who died in WWII while serving in the British navy or army. The work’s Czech premiere, with the participation of superlative foreign soloists (Gerald English, John Cameron), took place less than four years after its world premiere. So enthused was he by the work that in November 1969, following his emigration to Canada, Ančerl included the War Requiem in one of his first concerts in Toronto. The conductor’s personal profound experience of the senseless barbarity of the war imbued his conception of the work with a chilling authenticity. Both of the two previously unreleased concert recordings were made by the former Czechoslovak Radio.

Britten conducted by Karel Ančerl – previously unreleased unique recordings from the Prague Radio archives.

“[English's] elocution is in every way comparable to Peter Pears's own, the instrument even leaner and the delivery trenchantly objective...This is not the most pleasant-sounding recording of the War Requiem. It is surely, though, the one which best draws together the threads of this difficult form.” International Record Review, September 2013

“The Czech premiere of the War Requiem from 1966 is raw but urgent..Collectors will be pleased to encounter leading Czech singers Naděžda Kniplová and Beno Blachut among the soloists but this set is strictly one for the historical category.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2013

“English’s singing is consistently clear and incisive and Cameron has a fine, rounded tone and an excellent sense of line...[Kniplová] projects the ‘Liber scriptus’ powerfully and accurately...she’s fully up to the work’s histrionic challenges...Ančerl’s direction of the score is impressive. He’s clearly committed to the music and he ensures that rhythms are crisply articulated.” MusicWeb International, 11th November 2013

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Jiří Bělohlávek conducts Josef Suk & Britten

Jiří Bělohlávek conducts Josef Suk & Britten


Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20


Asrael Symphony, Op. 27

Recorded live for the Czech Radio at the concert of the 63rd Prague Spring International Music Festival in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, Prague, on June 1st, 2008 A unique and symbolic encounter: the most distinguished Czech conductor of the present time and a fabulous British orchestra communicate the profound messages in the works of great national composers. Jiří Bělohlávek has mediated Czech music to orchestras and audiences worldwide, yet in 2006 – as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra – he became above all a Londoner.

The recording at the 2008 Prague Spring festival of Suk’s Asrael and Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem will for ever serve as evidence of the extraordinary understanding between Bělohlávek and the orchestra.

The common denominator of the two works is the figure of the Angel of Death. A sad and immensely powerful inspiration for Suk was the passing away of his beloved wife Otilie and his dear teacher Antonín Dvořák.

Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, dedicated to the memory of his parents, is one of the composer’s early masterpieces. The recording marks a symbolic leave-taking on the part of Bělohlávek, who after six intense years as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is returning “home” to the Czech Philharmonic. Suk and Britten, Bělohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra – a meeting of the powerful traditions of English and Czech classical music.

“There's a real lowering intensity to the first movement [of the Sinfonia da Requiem], and a manic desperation to the second, so that the consolation offered by the finale really seems to have been earned.” The Guardian, 2nd August 2012 ***

“Here are two fine memories of a fruitful tenure...The BBC players respond to fevered yet cogent direction with a rare but palpable intensity.” Sunday Times, 5th August 2012

“there's absolutely no denying the impressive rigour and shrewdly calibrated dynamic control of Belohlavek's meticulously prepared conception...All told, a memorably nourishing and, by the close, profoundly moving display, which is rightly afforded an enthusiastic reception...No doubt about it, this is a release that reflects enormous credit on all concerned.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“here's a timely reminder of the profundity Jiri Bělohlávek could achieve during his impressive years as the BBC Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor...Bělohlávek caps Vaclav Neumann's earlier recording on Supraphon and matches the luminosity of Rafael Kubelik's interpretation on Panton” BBC Music Magazine *****

“The Britten receives a fine performance. The doom-laden opening, with its pounding drums, augurs well and you can tell that Bělohlávek has established a firm grip on the music from the outset...Though the performance of Sinfonia da Requiem is a fine one, Bělohlávek’s account of Asrael is finer still...From the outset the BBCSO projects the music strongly and eloquently.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - November 2012

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Supraphon - SU40952

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Legendary Recordings: Josef Vlach & Czech Chamber Orchestra

Legendary Recordings: Josef Vlach & Czech Chamber Orchestra


Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10


Danses sacrée et profane


Czech Suite, Op. 39

Serenade for Strings in E major, Op. 22

Hurnik, I:

Concerto for oboe, piano and strings


Adagio & Fugue in C minor for Strings, K546

Divertimento in D major, K136

Serenade No. 13 in G major, K525 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik'

Pauer, J:

Symphony for strings


Suite from King Arthur


The Birds


Apollon musagète


Serenade for String Orchestra in E flat, Op. 6


Serenade for strings in C major, Op. 48

Andante Cantabile (from String Quartet No. 1 in D Op. 11)

Czech Chamber Orchestra, Josef Vlach

Josef Vlach and the Czech Chamber Orchestra – recordings abounding in torrential energy, a legend arising from the feted Talich tradition.

The violinist and conductor Josef Vlach (1923–1988), who played a crucial role in cultivating the superlative Talich tradition and quality, is far from being as well known as he deserves to be. At the age of 23, Vlach co-founded the Czech Chamber Orchestra for Václav Talich, who after being falsely accused of collaborating with the Nazis was banned from working with the Czech Philharmonic and the National Theatre. The young orchestra soon proved to be a sensation (Pierre Fournier branded it the best chamber formation in the world), yet following the Communist coup in 1948, it rather opted for diluting than renouncing Talich.

The maestro’s stringent requirements for the utmost artistic quality, diligence and engagement served as the fundamental principles for the Czech Chamber Orchestra, revived by Josef Vlach in 1957. They went on to gain great acclaim worldwide, with the most noteworthy triumphs including the performance in Osaka in 1960 (standing in for the Boston Symphony Orchestra), the concert at the Salzburger Festspiele in 1962 (broadcast by some 180 radio stations), tours of the USA, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, France, Belgium ... The orchestra then returned from the limelight to the twilight at home, rehearsals in a dingy basement, to a country where they were more tolerated than supported. Yet even amidst such unfavourable circumstances Vlach’s exceptionable musical qualities and the Talich credo would bear extraordinary fruits. According to Ivan Moravec’s reminiscences, Josef Vlach was “in everyday life a person absolutely unexceptional, humble yet rather absent‐‐‐minded, whereas his imagination as regards music was so immense that I can hardly conceive of Talich’s successor possessing a greater, ampler and more compelling vision.” The presented recordings, made between 1960 and 1982 (most of them before 1966) are among the most precious gems from the Supraphon archives. They have all been carefully remastered, with half of them now being released on CD for the very first time.

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Supraphon Archiv - SU42032

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Musica Per Arpa: Kateřina Englichová

Musica Per Arpa: Kateřina Englichová


Suite for harp in C major, Op. 83


Trio pro hoboj, harfu a klavír


Slzy a úsměvy


Musica per arpa


Suite in modo classico per arpa sola

Kateřina Englichová (harp)

Recorded in the Church of Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, Prague – Vinohrady, May 15-16 and June 16-17, 2015, and at the Martínek Studio, Prague, on June 8, 2015.

Courage – one of the loveliest characteristics of the noteworthy harpist Kateřina Englichová. Her quest led her to the composers of the latter half of the twentieth century; she has given the premieres of a number of their works, some of which were dedicated to her. You can forget all about the romantic image of a beautiful woman gently strumming the harp strings with empty virtuosity that quickly becomes tiresome.

Slavický, Hurník, and Kabeláč present the harp as a dynamic, assertive instrument of expressive versatility, challenging us to search the depths. They have taken their inspiration from the French suite (Sluka), Mozart’s catchy tunes (Hurník), and the coloristic possibilities of the flute and harp (Kabeláč). To many, it may come as a surprise that the small Czech nation was producing so much innovative yet beautiful music for harp at the same time that Britten composed his Suite.

In two works, the harpist partners with Carol Wincenc, the highly regarded American professor of flute at the Juilliard School, and in Gemrot’s trio she is joined by the oboist Vilém Veverka and the pianist Martin Kasík. For those who are not afraid of the unknown, Kateřina Englichová discovers previously unknown beauty. And this discovery is worth hearing.

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Supraphon - SU41852


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Telemann & Britten: Music for Oboe

Telemann & Britten: Music for Oboe


Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe, Op. 49


Fantasias (12) for solo oboe, TWV 40:2-13

orig. for Flute

Vilém Veverka (oboe)

All the beauty, colourfulness and diversity expressed by a solo oboe...

How many timbres, shades and characters can a melodic instrument express? The repertoire for solo oboe is sparse, yet oboists can boast of a true gem: the inspiration brought to Benjamin Britten by the oboe and the verse of the Roman poet Ovid gave rise to the cycle Six Metamorphoses. In six personifications (Pan, Phaeton, Niobe, Bacchus, Narcissus, Arethusa), the impeccably refined miniatures represent contradictory human features. A similar abundance of characters is also rendered by the collection of Twelve Fantasias by G. P. Telemann, one of the most productive composers of all time. This unique cycle was originally intended for the transverse flute, yet its being played by the oboe is fully in keeping with the Baroque performance practice, affording the soloist the opportunity to display to the full the instrument’s virtuosity, as well as the wide colour scale and expressive abilities. A repertoire spanning the period between Baroque and contemporary music is one of the most salient features of the recording’s protagonist, Vilém Veverka, the winner of a number of international competitions and an acclaimed soloist. The 70 minutes simply fly by when listening to a solitary oboe in the hands of an artist of such distinction.

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Supraphon - SU41212


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Volume 43 - The Final Chapter

Volume 43 - The Final Chapter


Symphony No. 2


The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34

English text read by Eric Shilling


Build your country, strengthen peace (Buduj vlast, posílíš mír)

Cantata based on the text by F. Halas (1950)


Piano Concerto

Frantisek Rauch (piano)

Hurnik, I:

The Four Seasons

Ondráš - Music for the ballet


Piano Concerto No. 3 in G major

Vikterie Svihllikova (piano)


Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 17

Vaclav Snitil (violin)


Slavik a ruze (The Nightingale and the Rose), symphonic poem after Oscar Wilde, Op. 81


In the Soviet Land (V sovetské zemi) - cantata

Seidel, J:

Oboe Concerto

Josef Shejbal (oboe)

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Supraphon Ancerl Gold Edition - SU39442

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