Jarmil Burghauser: Seven Reliefs; Václav Dobiás: Symphony No. 2
Volume 40 in Supraphon's comprehensive Ancerl Gold Edition is devoted to two brilliant recordings from the early '60s, Karel Ancerl's peak years with his greatest ensemble, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The innovative works in this volume are clearly products of the comparatively free expression and experimentation enjoyed in Czechoslovakia in the years prior to Soviet suppression in 1968. The vividly orchestrated "Seven Reliefs for large orchestra," recorded in 1965, is an example of Jarmil Burghauser's "harmonic serialism", and represents a sophisticated, vertical development of twelve-tone procedures that frequently brings to mind the eerie soundscapes of the spectral school. Václav Dobiás' "Symphony No. 2," recorded in 1960, at first seems more traditionally oriented, since it features modified tonality, familiar harmonies, and adapted but recognizable sonata form; yet this bold, combative work effectively portrays a political conflict, dramatically represented in its furious developments and aggressive counterpoint. The CPO is powerful and overflowing with novel timbres and textures, and Ancerl's focused conducting makes both works feel concentrated and unified. Supraphon's remastering is extraordinary, thanks to the 24-bit process that almost makes these vintage analog recordings sound new.