Suk: Symphony No. 2 ‘Asrael’

Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Jakub Hrůša, conductor

BR Klassik

February 2020


The music of Suk – violinist, composer and one of the most important Bohemian symphonists – is still relatively rarely heard in Western European concert halls. The title of this symphony, Asrael, refers to the angel of death from Islamic-Persian mythology: he is a mysterious companion of the human soul from this world to the next. Suk developed his own musical language in which the solo violin is often involved (as here in the gentle central section of the Andante). With the “Asrael” symphony he consciously took up the tradition of a ‘fate symphony’, associated since Beethoven’s Fifth with the key of C minor moving at the end into radiant C major. This performance by the young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša makes a compelling case for Suk’s work. Since 2016, Hrůša has been chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, as well as first guest conductor of the London Philharmonia Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. He conducts the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in this performance of Suk’s “Asrael” symphony, which was recorded for the current CD at concerts in October 2018 in Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig.


5 Stars

It’s a strange emotional world, like nothing else in music, and this recording reveals it with heart-stopping intensity. Suk’s score is hugely difficult to play, especially for the violins, but the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra makes its rich, sombre palette glow magnificently. The conductor Jakub Hrůša observes Suk’s numerous tempo changes, and even adds some of his own, but he keeps the sense of mourning and resignation at the core of this beautiful, inconsolable piece.”

The Telegraph

Ivan Hewett