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05 Sep

A FESTIVAL OF FUČÍK

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A FESTIVAL OF FUČÍK

Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. Neeme Järvi

Chandos CHSA 5158

For someone who in his time was considered to be the Bohemian Sousa [American “March King”], it is surprising that Julius Ernst Wilhelm Fučík [1872-1916] does not rate a line in a quartet of music reference books on my shelves.  But he must not be thought of as just a band composer/conductor.  He first studied the violin, and then switched to the bassoon, and occasionally percussion and timpani. Later he joined the composition class of his fellow Czech, Antonin Dvorak.  On this well-filled disc of almost 80 minutes duration the 22 tracks include concert overtures and concert waltzes as well as marches; just a “taster” of the more than 400 polkas, marches and waltzes Fučík wrote. His two best-known works are Entry of the Gladiators, forever associated by oldies with circus performers, and The Florentiner March. Other titles here include Uncle Teddy, Danube Legends, The Merry Blacksmiths, Children of the Regiment, Little Ballerinas, Under the Admirals Flag, and The Old Grumbler, a toothsome comic polka featuring the RSNO’s bassoonist David Hubbard. The man wielding the baton so effectively is the head of an Estonian musical dynasty with nearly 500 recordings to his name. If you are looking for good tunes well-played they are here a-plenty, all in the celebrated Chandos sound. Peter Burt

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