Symphony No. 1/Fibich
August 16, 2014
Symphony No. 1 in F Major, op. 17 was first worked on in 1877 but took six years for Zdenek Fibich (1850-1900) to complete. Perhaps his personal life which was somewhat turbulent had something to do with the delay. For a first movement this one has to rank as a good effort as it is full of rich tonal color and good orchestration. The overall feeling is positive and upbeat. One can hear the influence of Schumann.
The first movement an Allegro begins with a pronounced tremolo lower register as the melody is introduced by the horns in the background. As the melody is developed you’ll hear it from the strings, flute(s), and the entire orchestra as an entire set of harmonic chords is developed around it.
The second movement the Scherzo with two parts both dancelike in nature and both structured. The woodwinds assume the major role with brass having a contributing role.
The third movement is the Adagio featuring a prominent part for the clarinet. The overall feeling is an emphasis on the romantic side.
The fourth movement begins with bars of urgent strings, a prelude to the upbeat festive theme from the brass. The tempo is allegro vivace. Throughout the movement we’re treated to update happy times. Towards the end of the movement Fibich recalls a brief but very distinct reference to the main theme of the movement from the horns. There is a climatic conclusion.
While many reviewers have not been kind to this recording I for one am not among them. I found it to be a charming recording that Stilec and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra perform well. It is nicely recorded with better than average high end and somewhat spacious in the separation of the instruments. I look forward to the new Naxos undertaking and encourage you to visit www.fibich.cz for more information.
Impressions from the Countryside op. 54 was written just prior to his third and final symphony being composed in 1897-98 when he had reunited with his former student Anezka Schulzova. They were to become lovers for the final three years of his life. This work could easily be classified as a symphonic tone poem.
- “Moonlit Night” is written for strings only. While not a fugue it does have the sound of one as well as a spiritual feeling.
- “Country Dance” is definitely a dance which makes one think of bow and curtsey as the work is a series of exchanges between strings and the rest of the orchestra.
- “Highlands Ho” does remind one of Scotland with the horns offering the theme and strings harmony. This type of style is quite a surprise coming from a Czech composer.
4.”Fireside Talk” is somewhat light in nature with an Italian sound this intermezzo shifts gears midway with the theme coming from a bassoon before returning to the opening idea. The two ideas come together at the end.
5.”Village Dance” is the concluding work and is a dance of sorts which is developed as a heavier sound which turns to a new theme midway through. A fitting conclusion to a fine work.
The two works on this CD give the listener an example of early and late Fibich sound like. It is an excellent starting point to hear what this forgotten composer sounds like.
SYMPHONY NO. 1 IN F MAJOR, OP. 17
- Allegro moderato (16:14)
- Scherzo: Allegro assai (5:45)
- Adagio non troppo (alla romanza) (5:10)
- Finale-Allegro con fuoco e vivace (9:33)
IMPRESSIONS FROM THE COUNTRYSIDE, OP. 54
- Moonlit Night (2:56)
- Country Dance (3:06)
- Highlands Ho (4:11)
- Fireside Talk (7:19)
- Village Dance (7:51)