S0419. JOSEF SUK, w.Jan Panenka (Pf.): Smetana & Suk; w.Alfréd Holecek (Pf.): Dvorák. (Czech Republic) Supraphon 3777, recorded 1962-71. - 099925377724
“Josef Suk, a Czech violinist who was known for his warm-toned interpretations of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy and Janacek as well as for his lineage was a great-grandson of Dvorak and a grandson of the turn-of-the-century violinist and composer also named Josef Suk. Tall, elegant and silver-haired, Mr. Suk, at the height of his career, projected a thoughtfulness and an authority in his music-making that more than compensated for his disinclination to wrap his performances in technical flashiness. When he made his New York debut, playing the Dvorak Violin Concerto - later one of his signature pieces - with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in February 1964, Harold C. Schoenberg wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES that Mr. Suk had a big sound and precise intonation, and that he ‘played with strength, with assurance and with all the rhythm that this seldom-played but attractive concerto needs’. In New York, Mr. Suk was a frequent guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from the 1970s through the 1990s, often appearing in programs that drew heavily on Czech music, to which he brought a measure of authenticity.
Josef Suk was born in Prague on Aug. 8, 1929, and gave his first public performance, as a child prodigy, in 1940. His main teacher, from childhood through 1950, when he was studying at the Prague Conservatory, was Jaroslav Kocian. After Mr. Kocian’s death, Mr. Suk continued his studies at the Prague Academy and led the orchestra of the Prague National Theater from 1953 to 1955. At the same time, he was performing with the Prague String Quartet as first violinist and with the Suk Trio, which he formed in 1952 with Jan Panenka, the pianist, and Josef Chuchro, the cellist.
Though Mr. Suk had performed in Paris and Brussels in 1948, he began his mature touring career in 1959, making his British and American debuts in 1964. He started the Suk Chamber Orchestra in 1974 and was its conductor and artistic director until 2000. He also began performing as a violist in the early 1970s. Mr. Suk’s devotion to chamber music led him to form other alliances, some short term but several for extended projects. Among them were a duo with the harpsichordist Zuzana Ruziekova and a trio with the pianist Julius Katchen and the cellist Janos Starker.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 8 July, 2011