The steady increase in recordings of his music has now established Suk as one of the great musical poets of the early 20th century. Too much is made of his affinities with his teacher and father-in-law, Dvorák; for his own part, Dvorák never imposed his personality on his pupils and Suk's mature music owes him little more than a respect for craft and an extraordinarily well developed ear for orchestral colour. His affinities in the five-movement A Summer's Tale, completed in 1909 – a magnificent successor to his profound Asrael Symphony – reflect Debussy and parallel the music of his friend Sibelius and Holst, but underpinning the musical language is a profound originality energising both form and timbre.
Mackerras's recording joins a select band: Šejna's vintage performance on Supraphon and Pešek's inspired rendition with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; his is an equal to them both and the Czech Philharmonic's playing is both aspiring and inspiring. While their reading is suffused with a feeling for the work's myriad orchestral colours, they recognise that Suk's music is much more than atmosphere. In particular they excel in their handling of the drama and overwhelming emotional urgency of this remarkable, big-boned symphonic poem.
The English composer Alec Roth has been active for several decades and collaborated with Indian novelist Vikram Seth on an opera in the 1990s. Here he seems to tread into the profitable choral music territory mined by John Rutter. Although he is in no way a clone of Rutter, your reactions to that composer may give you an idea of how you'll feel about the Roth works here.
The French conductor François-Xavier Roth was born in France in 1971 and studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. In October 2000 he won joint first prize at the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London, following which he was appointed for two seasons assistant conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra. From 2000 to 2002 he was also assistant conductor with the Caen Orchestra. In 2003 François-Xavier Roth created the chamber orchestra Les Siècles (The Centuries), combining period and modern instruments, an orchestra which covers a vast repertoire from Baroque to contemporary music.