Hyperion Records

Symphony in D major, Op 24
When the Symphony in D was composed in Vienna in 1823 the Austrian city was alive with talk of Beethoven. It is to Voríšek’s credit that he made no attempt to copy the great German’s style, though there are reminiscences of it in some of his scoring. Instead, it was to his homeland and its musical heritage that Voríšek turned, becoming one of the earliest of the Czech nationalists that led through Smetana and Dvorák to Janácek. By 1823 the Mozart style was yielding to a new musical language, while the sense of balanced form perfected by Mozart still resisted determined efforts to supplant it. Voríšek’s four-movement structure adheres to established patterns but current fashion dictated replacement of the minuet by a scherzo.

A modest opening of the first movement shows an immediate talent for pleasant melody, but a gruff timpani crescendo quickly introduces Bohemian fire. Tremolo violins, syncopation and impulsive rhythmic drive characterize the repeated exposition, its milder second subject reducing the temper only briefly. The raw, excitable, vivacious mood extends throughout the development. Much the same terrain is crossed in the recapitulation as in the exposition, but an extended coda adds satisfying weight to the conclusion. In the Andante, after an imperious chordal introduction, cellos announce a tragic theme that extends into a section of instrumental interplay suggesting that the composer had made a careful study of Beethoven’s methods. In central place, and reintroduced later to close the movement, a lovely melody creates a perfect contrast with the more agitated material on either side. A sinister repeated bass phrase seems to prepare for a cataclysmic Schubertian climax, but the crisis is averted.

A tempo marking of Allegro ma non troppo belies the headlong pace of the Scherzo, its woodwind interjections revealing a subtle sense of colour. The Trio is frankly Schubertian at first, but an impatient horn stutter impels the music to give way to a romantic horn melody in the second strain. A hesitant coda quickly becomes decisive. As in Dvorák’s Symphony No 9 of just seventy years later, the finale takes a moment or two to gather steam. Once under way, a playful side of Voríšek’s nature is revealed: pointed woodwind phrases and needle-sharp articulation contribute to the excitement. As a final trick, some unexpected modulations are displayed before the concise final chords.

from notes by Robert Dearling © 1995

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA66800 track 2
Recording date
10 April 1995
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Arthur Johnson
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Arriaga & Voríšek: Symphonies (CDA66800)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: September 1995
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