Suchon: Not Quite Wonderful Orchestral Works

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 9

Eugen Suchon (1908-93) is called by the note-writer of this release the most “influential” Slovak composer of the mid to late 20th century. I’m not so sure what that means. You don’t often hear about a “Suchon School”, at least not outside of Slovakia. His work, however, has been well represented on disc, including major efforts such as his opera The Whirlpool. I just wish it were more interesting. Suchon writes in a melodic but not necessarily tuneful style that refuses to stick in the memory. There are beautiful moments: the second-movement adagio in the Balladic Suite, for example, offers both passion and intensity, and the Symfonietta rustica sports a more obviously folk-like orientation.

However the Metamorphoses, subtitled “variations on original themes in the form of a suite for orchestra”, sound neither original nor particularly captivating. Suchon’s scoring tends to turn noisy and percussive at climaxes, with too many cymbal crashes and an especially relentless snare drum. You get the sense that a certain Socialist Realist aesthetic stands behind much of this music, even though neither that nor the Czech regime under which Suchon worked ever gets mentioned in the notes. Whatever the explanation, the music strains after effect. Certainly these performances under Neeme Järvi and his native Estonian forces are as bold and vigorous as one could ask, and they are very well recorded. The music just isn’t that special, unfortunately.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

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