Recorded: Royal Albert Hall, London, 27 August 1964 (Dvorák), Royal Albert Hall, London, 9 September 1965 (Beethoven)
Czech violinist Josef Suk (born August 8, 1929) is the grandson of Josef Suk, the composer and violinist, and great-grandson of Antonín Dvorák. He has had a distinguished solo career, founding the Suk Trio (named after his grandfather) in 1951 and the Suk Chamber Orchestra in 1974. His career as a concert violinist started in 1954, and he has given concerts all over the world and the prestigious music festivals. He reached his greatest success in the USA and Canada. He has made numerous recordings, especially for Decca, EMI and Supraphon. He is a six-times winner of the French Grand Prix du Disque, and winner of the Edison Prize and the coveted Wiener Flotenuhr.
Josef Suk is the great-grandson of Dvorak so it is fitting that his wonderfully idiomatic performance in stereo of the composer's concerto with Sir Malcolm Sargent at the 1964 Proms is featured here. This was Suk's Proms debut.
Suk single handedly made the Dvorak Concerto a masterpiece born out by the New York's Herald Tibune's review following a sensational concert with George Szell in Carnegie Hall, “Suk played Dvorák’s Violin Concerto as if it were the greatest work in the world. He conjured up breathtaking tones from his Stradivarius, which he manages with a technique that seems to know no limits”.
The stereo coupling is a 1965 performance of the Beethoven Concerto from the 1965 Proms, again with Sargent conducting. As Suk remains one of the great violinists steeped in the European tradition who still alive today, this great performance is strongly recommended to collectors. The recording, once issued on BBC Radio Classics, has been completely remastered by Paul Baily.
His 80th birthday is on August 8th this year so this release is especially welcome.
Antonin Dvorak: Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53, B. 96
I. Allegro ma non troppo
II. Adagio ma non troppo
III. Finale: Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo
Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
I. Allegro ma non troppo
III. Rondo: Allegro
“The Dvorák was Suk's Proms debut, and the odd rough edge is easily forgiven in the overall sweep of the performance. Sargent proves himself a fine partner, and doesn’t allow the Beethoven to sit down.”
“…this is a fluent, beautifully phrased account (with sensitive support from Sargent and the BBC Symphony Orchestra), embodying the key facets of Suk's playing: the music first, virtuoso display second when required - and never for its own sake - delivered with a full, sweet tone. Paul Baily's superb remastering renders this 45-year-old performance as fresh as it was on the night. These same qualities of performance and recording apply equally to the expansive account of Beethoven's Concerto... a fine rendering of great poetry and feeling, the push and pull of pulse adding an extra frisson of electricity to the playing.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.