Home Theatre Jakub Hrůša makes a really sturdy case for Suk’s Asrael Symphony with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Jakub Hrůša makes a really sturdy case for Suk’s Asrael Symphony with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Jakub Hrůša makes a really sturdy case for Suk’s Asrael Symphony with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich – Seen and Heard Worldwide


SwitzerlandSwitzerland Hosokawa, Suk: Christian Schmitt (organ), Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich / Jakub Hrůša (conductor). Tonhalle, Zurich, 29.6.2023. (JR)

Jakub Hrůša © Eric Engel

Toshio HosokawaEmbrace – Mild and Shade for Organ and Orchestra
Suk – Symphony No.2 Asrael – Op.27

This was the ultimate mainstream live performance of the Tonhalle season and introduced Jakub Hrůša (Music Director Designate on the Royal Opera Home Covent Backyard as from September 2025) again to Zurich.

Earlier than the interval, we heard the Swiss premiere of a piece for organ and orchestra by this season’s s Artistic Chair of the Tonhalle, Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa. The work is devoted to Christian Schmitt, Organist to the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra since 2014. The 20-minute piece was commissioned collectively by the orchestras in Bamberg, Cologne and Luxembourg, the Konzerthaus Basis in Vienna and the Ernst von Siemens Basis. Considerably formulaic in nature, the work locations the organist very a lot centre stage, and the Tonhalle duly positioned the console proper subsequent to the conductor’s podium. Schmitt impressed us along with his virtuosity on the instrument, and the piece allowed the Queen of all devices to indicate off its technical and sonic wizardry. We went from mild, tinkling opening to ear-shattering cacophony in a matter of minutes: because the composer places it, from Yin to Yang, from Mild to Shade. The organ gave the piece a sure extraterrestrial high quality; the busy percussion part added a Japanese really feel. The piece in the end dies away to nothing. Hrůša stored time clearly and diligently.

I have to admit I had a reasonably uneasy feeling that if the piece had been performed backwards, it will have sounded reasonably comparable and few would have observed something was awry. The piece obtained solely the politest of applause and clearly mystified many within the viewers – a lot hotter applause was given to Schmitt after his encore of an extract from Reger’s Fantasie and Fugue Op.135b.

Hrůša wanted neither rating nor spectacles for his interpretation of Suk’s Asrael Symphony. Asrael is God’s benevolent Angel of Dying in a number of main religions, accompanying the deceased into Paradise. Suk was Dvořák’s son-in-law, marrying Dvořák’s daughter Otilie; Suk revered Dvořák and tremendously admired his compositions. The symphony, composed in 1906, is devoted to the reminiscence of Suk’s father-in-law and his spouse who each died inside a 12 months of one another in 1904/5.

The primary motion shortly works itself right into a frenzy, giving a distinguished position to the oboe, finely performed by Principal Isaac Duarte. Because the symphony progressed, the strings had been typically ethereal, with a distinguished half given within the quicker central motion to the concertmaster, this night tenderly performed by Klaidi Sahatçi. The sluggish fourth motion is a tragic farewell to Suk’s spouse; it’s the coronary heart and soul of the work. Lastly, with spectacular cor anglais (Martin Frutiger) and far thumping of the bass drum, we had been again within the noisy territory of the ultimate motion. Hrůša clearly knew the work just like the again of his hand and expertly formed every phrase. He was visibly a favorite with the orchestra and the viewers took to his heat and apparent geniality. He held his palms aloft for a number of minutes on the tranquil shut of the symphony, to nice impact.

While I didn’t come away with a sense that the symphony is a masterpiece (it lacks the melodic inventiveness of Suk’s father-in-law), it is a vital Czech work which, while not uncared for, calls for and deserves extra frequent performances and Hrůša made out a wonderful case for additional hearings. Hrůša follows commendably within the musical footsteps of Václav Talich, Rafael Kubelík, Jiří Bělohlávek, Libor Pešek and Honorary Czech Sir Charles Mackerras in championing this composer and this work specifically.

On a purely private be aware, that is my final overview from Zurich as I now return completely to the UK. My replacements are Valerie Litz (for Tonhalle-Orchester live shows) and Michael Fischer (for Zurich Opera). I go away with fond reminiscences of some very nice performances by the Tonhalle who go from power to power. London can look ahead to seeing and listening to them on the BBC Proms on August thirtieth that includes Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák’s New World Symphony beneath their Principal Conductor Paavo Järvi.

John Rhodes



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