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Jessica Duchen
Friday 19th February 2010
Meeting Asrael...

I have a preview in today's Independent about Josef Suk's 'Asrael' Symphony, which Vladimir Jurowski is conducting tomorrow night at the RFH.  Though performances pop up a little more often than they used to 20 years ago, it's still somewhere reasonably high in the musical White Elephant charts: a vast outpouring inspired by the young composer's grief at the death of his father-in-law, Dvorak, and his wife, Dvorak's daughter Otilka. Definitely the kind of OTT hyperemotional piece that the Brits on the whole find it difficult to cope with. And I can't wait to hear it. The preview has been rather chopped, but says most of what it needs to.

Vladimir did also tell me, though, that he intends this concert to launch his personal mission to rehabilitate Suk's music beyond the composer's native Czech Republic. Future LPO seasons will schedule Suk's tone poems, Strauss-influenced creations from later in his life which could probably never have existed had he not written Asrael first. 

For Friday almost-historical, here is Josef Suk junior, the composer's grandson, performing the last movement of great-grandpa Antonin's gorgeous Violin Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Vaclav Neumann. I say 'almost' historical, because this Suk is alive and well and living in Prague, aged 80, and last year recorded a fabulous CD of Dvorak and Suk chamber music. I adore his sound, which is chock-full of personality and seems part and parcel of his rhythmic sense. Hope you love him as much as I do - if so, click through to Youtube to find the other movements of the concerto.


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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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