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See latest reviews of other albums..., June 2020

This concluding CD, which features top-notch and highly idiomatic playing by the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava conducted by Marek Štilec, offers a particularly interesting mixture of material that is redolent of Czech atmosphere and music that pays homage to its ethnic roots but goes well beyond them. © 2020 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2020

Fate has been cruel to Zdenek Fibich, his life as a composer overshadowed by the popularity of Antonin Dvorak, the two living and working at almost the same time.

In the five volumes of his orchestral works, Naxos has been, to some measure, redressing that situation with performances from the conductor, Marek Stilec, who has recreated Fibich’s original scores and intentions. To that extent we are hearing the works on disc for the first time. Stylistically they were in much the same world as Dvorak, though Fibich was more open to the changes that were taking place in the musical world around him, and was far more open to international orientation than other Czech composers of that era. The Third Symphony, which was completed in 1898 just prior to his death, is redolent in thematic material that only briefly touches on nationalistic influences in a long opening movement that leans towards late Germanic Romanticism. That becomes all the more pertinent in the second movement, Allegro con fuoco, its rather gloomy persona lifted with the happy and vivacious opening to the Scherzo. We briefly return to the weight of the symphony’s opening before Fibich launches on the mood of optimism building to a triumphant conclusion. Outside of his Czech homeland Fibich became best known for his six published operas, though it was the operas of Janacek—who was only four years his junior—that has eclipsed them. The overtures to two of them, and a Funeral March complete the release, and are very different to the Symphony in their highly coloured scoring, though they largely come from the time of his Symphony. With such a passionate advocate as Marek Stilec, these are outstanding performances, the playing of the Janacek Philharmonic and the sound quality are both of the highest quality. Fervently recommended. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

Records International, June 2020

The symphony, written only two years before Fibich’s untimely death, reveals his sustained melodic and atmospheric powers as the music pursues the ‘darkness to light’ trajectory synonymous with the symphony during the 19th century. The remaining pieces, drawn from his best stage works, showcase operatic qualities that extend the dramatic lineage of Smetana. © 2020 Records International

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