Track listing Awards Press review Complete description Also recommended...

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Josef Suk



Critics' choices


Hybrid SACD (recorded in DXD; SACD Surround 5.0 / SACD Stereo / CD Stereo - playable on all SACD and CD players); booklet with liner notes in English and Finnish


January 2009 (Finland)
February 2009 (internationally)

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1132-5


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Track listing

Asrael - Symphony for large orchestra in C minor, Op. 27
I. Andante sostenuto

II. Andante

III. Vivace

IV. Adagio

V. Adagio e maestoso

Also recommended...


Gramophone 'Editor's Choice'
Classic FM 'Disc of the Month'
Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik - Bestenliste '10/10' '10 • 10 • 10'

Press review

Everyone should hear Asrael - and Ashkenazy makes a persuasive case.
David Gutman, Gramophone, May 2009, Editor's Choice

Ashkenazy uppoutuu teoksen traagisimpiin syvänteisiin, HKO taitaa tuloksellisen antautumisen taidon.
Matti Saurama, Uutislehti Demari, 13 toukokuu 2009

The hi-res surround sonics of the live recording are exemplary, and as perfectly suited to Suk's music as the many SACDs of both Bruckner and Mahler symphonies have proven.
John Sunier, Audiophile Audition, April 12, 2009

Within seconds of sliding this CD into my hifi system and hitting the play button, I knew it was going to be special. Suk's Asrael symphony is a true one-off and shines in this performance. (...) If Asrael is Suk's masterpiece, then here's a recording to match it.

Andrew Mellor, Classic FM magazine, March 2009, Disc of the Month

Ashkenazy brings more sheer excitement to the finale than any other conductor on disc, and the playing of the Helsinki Philharmonic is splendid. Ashkenazy also benefits from the best engineering (...). If you love the symphonies of, say, Mahler or Tchaikovsky, then you really must hear "Asrael."

David Hurwitz, Listen magazine, March/April 2009

Despite its tragic programme, the symphony is an uplifting memorial, full of romantic fervour and richly orchestrated. Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Helsinki orchestra give a searing account of this neglected masterpiece.
Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph, February 22, 2009, 4 stars

Dies ist nichts weniger als die lange überfällige Referenz-Aufnahme. (...) Eine grossartige Aufführung und ein Muss für den Liebhaber und Sammler! (...) Asrael-Sinfonie ist ein Meisterwerk, das den besten Sinfonien von Bruckner oder Mahler ohne weiteres an die Seite zu stellen ist.
Benjamin C. Cohrs,, Februar 2009, 10 • 10 • 10

The recording of the 'Asrael' Symphony is another triumph for the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. This masterpiece of late Romanticism is superbly recorded in multi-channel sound.
Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat, January 31, 2009

This performance is magnificent. (Ashkenazy) brings more sheer excitement to the finale than any other conductor on disc, and the playing of the Helsinki Philharmonic gives nothing away to the Czechs in the Talich and Neumann versions. Ashkenazy also enjoys far and away the best engineering (...). If you love the symphonies of, say, Mahler or Tchaikovsky, then you really must hear Asrael.
David Hurwitz,, January 2009, Artistic Quality 10 / Sound Quality 10

This neglected rarity has Mahlerian breadth and impressionistic colour for both of which conductor Ashkenazy has always shown instinctive affinity. The performance has drama and impressive emotion. It has rhetorical scope and fine, if not impeccable, instrumental playing.
Sydney Morning Herald, January 17, 2009

Complete description

"I was saved by music," wrote Czech composer Josef Suk about his 'Asrael' Symphony, a work born out of tragedy and the loss of his teacher Antonín Dvořák in 1904. While composing the first part to a funeral symphony titled after the biblical angel of death who leads souls of deceased to the land of eternal blissfulness, Suk also lost his wife (Dvořák's favorite daughter Otilie).  As a pupil and son-in-law of Dvořák, Suk's compositions reflect Dvořák's influence and contain many elements of Bohemian folk music. Suk's greatest work remains a masterpiece of the late-Romantic repertoire which can easily be compared in scope and emotional range to Bruckner and Mahler.

Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in a masterful and intense performance of this deeply moving work, which has never before been released in super audio quality.

Scholar Jan Smaczny who is an expert in Czech music contributed the booklet liner notes.

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