The Four Pieces for violin and piano Op 17 were composed in the spring of 1900 and dedicated to Karel Hoffmann, a fellow violinist in the Czech Quartet. The structure of these movements is simple, but their wide-ranging rhetoric proclaims a clearly sophisticated compositional temperament. The first movement, beginning with near-Impressionist colouring, also embraces extravagant romantic gestures in its central section. There is a hint of the national accent in the emphatic cross-rhythms which characterize the outer sections of the Appassionato second movement; these frame a passage of rapt lyricism entirely typical of Suk’s early maturity. This tendency is echoed in the intense opening of the third movement, although once again Suk, somewhat in the manner of alternation favoured by Dvorák in his Dumka movements, mingles seriousness with a brisker style of writing owing something to the Polka. The finale adopts the manner of a perpetuum mobile, drawing in a pastiche of the Classical manner amid the instrumental pyrotechnics.
from notes by Jan Smaczny © 2004