Dvořák’s great-grandson lives up to the legacy

Dvořák’s Works for Violin and Orchestra are brought wonderfully to life by Josef Suk.

Composer: Dvořák, Suk
Repertoire: Works for Violin and Orchestra
Artists: Josef Suk, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Supraphon SU40472

The Music: Heard alongside Dvořák’s winsomely tuneful Violin Concerto and just as lovely Romance, the music of the composer’s son-in-law Josef Suk – his Fantasy and Fairy-Tale Suite – sounds more intricate and sophisticated. Yet its scintillating Czech atmosphere is just as unmistakable. 

The Performance: Suk’s grandson (and Dvořák’s great-grandson), unhelpfully also called Josef, was one of the great violinists of his time, as these recordings, made between 1978 and 1985, resoundingly confirm. Think of a Czech counterpart to Russia’s David Oistrakh: there’s the same huge fullness and weight of sound, with technical immensity to match, plus a darkly beautiful tone-quality that goes straight to the music’s lyrical heart. Add to this the Czech Philharmonic in its finest vintage ever, with a magnificent conductor at the helm, and you have some unforgettable music-making. 

The Verdict: It’s hard to believe that Dvořák’s Concerto can ever have been more wonderfully played. And in his grandfather’s two works, Suk’s playing mesmerises the ear. The re-mastered sound is more than decent. 

Want More? Dvořák and Suk each wrote an enchanting Serenade for Strings: both are pleasingly played by the Capella Istropolitana under Jaroslav Krecek (Naxos, 8.550419).