Eugen Suchoň
Metamorfózy – Variations on Original Themes in the Form of a Suite for Orchestra
Baladická suita, Op.9
Symfonietta rustica
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi

Recorded June 2013 & May 2014 in Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 10849
Duration: 64 minutes
Reviewed: April 2015

The Slovakian composer Eugen Suchoň (1908-93), born in Pezinok, makes it onto the Chandos label courtesy of the prolific Neeme Järvi. Although none of the music here is a first recording (nothing is claimed anyway), it will, I suspect, be unfamiliar to most listeners; it certainly is to your reviewer.

Filmic, picturesque, an abundance of melody and colour, and quite ‘English pastoral’ at times with that characteristic vein of sadness threaded through the expression, easily describes the opening of Metamorphoses (1953). When things become earthily ebullient, then William Walton comes to mind. Suchoň certainly relishes the vibrancy that a large orchestra can provide and his scoring is rich and here vividly recorded, the Estonian orchestra playing with commitment and relish. Suchoň can also beguile, as the tinkling (piano and triangle) out-in-the-open beginning of the fourth movement, with a rhapsodic clarinet solo, demonstrates. By contrast, the wide-ranging fantasy of the 10-minute finale is a medley of moods (not least wild and dramatic) and builds up to a heady conclusion. If an English counterpart composer to Suchoň is sought, then it is perhaps Arnold Bax.

Suchoň’s Balladic Suite (1935) begins tempestuously, with a sinister edge. The four movements (between them not too dissimilar to Bartók’s Four Orchestral Pieces, Opus 12) add to a compelling whole and are often dressed in flamboyant orchestral writing; quieter sections, freely flowing and descriptive, can touch the heart. Graham Melville-Mason’s booklet note states that the impassioned finale should follow after a long pause; here it does so attacca! The Symfonietta rustica (1956) is short and light, and folksy and lyrical, if changeable. The orchestration is sonorous.

High praise for the performances, and the music is never less than enjoyable, the Balladic Suite standing out. The recorded sound is first-class, but sadly the man responsible for it has passed away, far too young. The booklet includes a tribute to Maido Maadik, 1960-2014.

 

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