fibich cover 001


NAXOS 8.573197


Yet another new composer to me is Zdenek Fibich (1850-1900) born in Czechoslovakia and composed during the same time period as Dvorak (1841-1904) and Smetana (1824-1884). He is not nearly as well known as his fellow Czech’s but his music is as exciting as theirs, a true unsung composer who should be explored as I’m doing right now with this newer release from Naxos. Five tone poems Othello, Zaboj, Slavoj, and Ludek, Toman and the Wood Nymph, Boure, and Vesna are included in the 72 minute CD. They were written in the 1870-1880 time period when the three composers were all active. All five are in the 12-18 minute range somewhat a standard amount of time for this type of orchestral work. Othello op. 6 was the earliest of the five works written in 1871 and is based on the Shakespeare story of Othello, Desdemona, and Lago. Its premiere was conducted by Smetana in December of 1873. A majestic quite rousing fanfare from active brass opens this highly structured work which weaves through the waves of emotions quite nicely. The main theme is used for the majority of the work with percussion providing a bridge between different emotional motifs. I quite like the interpretation and plan on returning to this piece often as it will be included in an all evening compilation. I’ve included this selection as an audio clip but please keep in  mind these are much lower quality and will only give you an idea of the sound and style not the sonics of a CD or 320MP3. Zaboj, Slavoj, and Ludek, op. 37 was written in 1875 and while similar in some ways has a more heroic feel to it with passages of tension building material. Harmony is strong in this one and requires a bit of concentration so you can everything that is going on in this fine work. Toman and the Wood Nymph, op. 49 was also written in 1875 but not performed until 1878 when it premiered in Prague. The basic plot has been told many times that of a youth fleeing his beloved to the arms of a nymph. The beginning and ending are understated with the main body of material being filled emotions of love and tragedy. Tempest op. 46 seems to be another Shakespeare work that many composers attempt to tackle and what better subject matter than the opening storm sequence followed by the fate of those who had been set apart. Nicely orchestrated. Spring op. 13 written much earlier than the premiere performance in Prague in 1881 it tells a story of  all of the happenings of Spring and the connection it has with the earth. It begins quietly a wonderful calm from the winter. Birds are chirping and there is a feeling of happiness as the dancing and gaiety begin. Overall this is a pleasant experience of tone poems well played by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marek Stilec and recorded by CNSO Studios. Track Listing:

  1. Othello (16.59)
  2. Zaboj, Slavoj, and Ludek (17:52)
  3. Toman and the Wood Nymph (12:32)
  4. The Tempest (11:39)
  5. Spring (13:03)

Total Time is 72:27