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Stepan Sulek: Symphonies


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Author Topic: Stepan Sulek: Symphonies  (Read 663 times)
BrianA
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« on: November 07, 2014, 12:02:18 am »

Fellow Sulekophiles

It may be of interest to some of you, especially those of you on this side of the pond, to know that Records International ( www.recordsinternational.com ) in Tucson, Arizona currently have in stock the complete Sulek symphonies on the Croatian Cantus label.  I attempted to order this set directly from Croatia some months ago, but it was a fair bit of hassle, so for those of us in North America (and maybe parts of Europe?), this is a much more convenient way of ordering this set.  Price is US$55.98 plus postage.  It will not appear in the Records International catalog until December, but if anyone wants to get a head start, this is your opportunity!


Brian
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ttle
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2014, 10:33:15 pm »

For any of you who might hesitate to acquire the CD set because they already have copies of radio broadcasts of each of the eight symphonies, I cannot encourage you enough to go ahead. Even though some of the recordings in the Cantus box are 'historic', the sound quality is often nothing short of revelatory. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the whole set again and again since I received it, particularly symphonies Nos. 4 and 8.
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2014, 08:23:28 pm »

Thanks for the tip, I'll certainly pick them up. Sulek is a composer whose works need the best recordings because of the size and energy of his orchestra.
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Gauk
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2014, 09:06:34 am »

Sadly, if I order from the US, I get charged customs duty on top of everything. I think I will ask a Croatian friend if she can get the set for me - assuming I can find a way to pay her.
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BrianA
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 12:47:33 am »

Gauk,

In my case (ordering from Canada) it would have been technically possible to order directly from Croatia.  The price would have been acceptable and exchange not too bad.  What did me in was that Cantus will only accept payment by direct bank transfer (no credit card or paypal payments) and the bank fees associated with this transaction would have in effect doubled the cost of the item for me.  I think I may be saving a bit (not necessarily a lot) by ordering from Records International, but I will have eliminated all the hassle associated with direct ordering.

Of course, if I actually HAD a friend in Croatia, I would probably have gone that avenue instead.   Wink

Brian
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Elroel
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2014, 09:40:00 am »

Sofar I couldn't find the possibility to get them from Croatia. Not one of the online shops I know have them.
Hope for the though.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2014, 03:03:46 am »

I read that the Sulek Symphonies are here, but I cannot find them:
Perhaps someone else can.
http://recordsinternational.com/
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2014, 03:55:41 am »

Brian said in the first post that they would be appearing in the December catalogue.
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BrianA
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2014, 05:28:34 am »

Jolly R, I suggest either (a) e-mailing your enquiry directly to Jeffrey Joneikis, the owner/operator of Records International at sales@recordsinternational.com, or (b) waiting for the December catalog, which should be out by Monday, and ordering through the regular channels.

I know Jeff has this item because he brought it in, at least in part, at my instigation, and yes, it is supposed to be in the December catalog.  I've had my copy for two weeks!

Brian
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BrianA
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2014, 02:24:36 pm »

And here it is!

http://www.recordsinternational.com/cd.php?cd=12Q003
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2014, 03:03:05 am »

Thank you..I was unable to find it ..
yes...fabulous and worth every penny, I suspect
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Greg K
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2014, 01:05:20 am »

I won't be acquiring the set, I'm afraid. The only two Sulek Symphonies I find truly compelling and with enduring impact are Nos.5&6, - which pack a powerful punch indeed (my download recordings seem fine).  Curious if this represents no more than an individual judgment, or whether these stand out for others also, even those responding more positively to the rest of the cycle than I.  Is there any consensus in regards to "exemplary Sulek"?
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M. Yaskovsky
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2014, 12:19:04 pm »

As I'm Dutch the best way for European customers to obtain this set is ordering directly at Cantus.
My set arrived today, took 7 days to get over here from Croatia, and it was a total of 38,75 Euro's including VAT and P&P.
So much cheaper than ordering at recordsinternational I'm afraid.
Now let's listen to them usic.
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BrianA
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2014, 03:42:05 pm »

M. Yakovsky, I would have done the same, but it would have been quite a bit more hassle for me in Canada.  Glad you were able to do it, though!
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relm1
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2014, 11:13:41 pm »

I purchased the set and received it a few days ago.  I thought I would write up my thoughts on the works in case others are contemplating exploring this music further.

I thoroughly enjoyed traversing this music.  The sound is a mixture of central European composers of the twentieth century such as Enescu, Martinu, Honegger, Tubin, Bartok with a splash of Mahler and Shostakovich.  Fans of 20th century symphonies will find these are terrific names to be compared to.  The recordings are quite good considering the age range. 
Symphony No. 1, reminds me of Martinu - especially his earlier works.  This is exciting music and it is full of youthful vigor but not particularly memorable.  This recording is in mono but still high quality given its 50 year age.

Symphony No. 2 is quite a bit darker and more like Honegger’s No. 3 (Symphonie Liturgigue).  The adagio reminds me of the adagio from Shostakovich Symphony No. 15.  Overall, this is a terse symphony.  Last two movements feature lots of punctuated staccatos and agitated melodies.  My favorite movement is the second (the adagio).  The last movement has a melody that reminds me somewhat of Mahler’s early symphonies (the melody could feel at home in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 first movement – the horn theme).  There is an effective and unrelenting buildup of momentum.  There is a militaristic quality to the last movement that sounds like the buildup of Honegger’s No. 3 which I adore.  About half way through the last movement, it becomes a dirge for strings that builds up powerfully to a climax somewhat reminiscent of Shostakovich No. 6 last bars.

No. 3 is a recent recording dating 2013.  Some of the nice qualities of this one is the wind solos that reminded me somewhat of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 6.  But to be blunt, that comparison also demonstrates how great a symphonist Sibelius was.  It is not that this music isn’t good but that the comparisons are inevitably better. 

The Symphony No. 4 is very well recorded (from 2012).  This symphony is quite conservative.  This work reminds me somewhat of Brahms’s first symphony and some Tchaikovsky as well.  It seems to me to be slightly repetitive but I enjoyed the conclusion of the first movement. 

No. 5 has a sweeping opening and much in common with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov’s early works with some Scriabin ecstasy mixed in.  This is a large scale work lasting about 45 minutes.  The recording is from 1964 so don’t expect state of the art audio.  I really enjoyed the second movement (andantino) finding it very inventive.  The third movement is colorful and engaging.  The fourth is triumphant and has a Scriabinesque quality.  The work as a whole is very satisfying.  This might be the strongest symphony of the set.  It really is a very good symphony and would be glad to have a state of the art recording such as what Ondine/Lintu did with Enescu Symphonies.

No. 6 is lush and romantic.  Tchaikovsky meets Scriabin.  Also some nice dramatic climaxes.  Probably reminds me of Janis Ivanovs Symphony No. 5 or mid-century soviet music (Eshpai).  The Allegretto has some moments that remind me of Gliere’s Symphony No. 3 (the forest murmurs sequence of the adagio).  These are long lined melodies.  Very finely written and imaginative.    The Adagio is quite lovely with its trio for two flutes and harp. 

Symphony No. 7 is very well recorded (dating from 2013) and has some Wagnerian fate music in it that contrasts with forest music (bird song?) and is full of color and heavy drama.  The slow movement (adagio) also has some elements of Respighi (modal and bird calls).  There are quotes of Brahms No. 1 and a huge statement of the "death theme" as it returns in the last movement near the end of the symphony as a climactic coda.  A very exciting work with a somewhat sad and quiet coda.

No. 8 is an epic scale lasting over 50 minutes.  This work has qualities of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mahler, and Bruckner (especially in the scherzo).  The opening movement has a real Mahler No. 1 opening feel (and some of the wunderhorn).  It is also very brassy and builds to an impressive and passionate climax.

These are epic symphonies in the grand tradition and are full of drama with high energy.  I believe he has his own sound while having a debt to Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler.  If the symphonies of Martinu, Honegger, Tubin, Janis Ivanovs, and Shostakovich resonate with you, you will find much to enjoy here.  They are tonal, well crafted, and progress well one to the next.  In listening to this whole set back to back, I felt that some of the music could use a bit more empty space.  For example, Weinberg is a bit too sparse.  Sibelius is probably just right (for my tastes).  My favorites are No. 5, No. 6, and No. 8 followed by no. 2 but the whole set is quite good and worth the price. 
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