This is a truly marvelous disc. A Summer's Tale was completed in 1909 and is cast in five movements and dressed in a magically shimmering, evocative and almost impressionistic musical language. Suk subtitled it `musical poem', but it is more a (sort of) symphonic suite than a coherent single work. It is none the worse for it, and who can fail to be entranced by the utterly enchanting, almost otherwordly "Noon", containing some of the most inspired and enthralling music I have heard in a long time - or the woeful, dark conversations between instrumental groups (particularly fine use of the cor anglais) in `Blind Musicians'. Overall, this is an extremely appealing work, and - I'd be willing to say - something of an overlooked masterpiece; mysterious and fantastic-sounding and genuinely memorable music of halflights and shadows, often breathtakingly beautiful, but with a surging, smoldering emotional power underneath.
The coupling here, the Fantastic Scherzo from 1903, is another gem, full of life and swagger and with a delightful and memorable second subject. Now, there are apparently alternative versions under Gielen and Pesek (at least), which I have not heard, but this recording under Mackerras is superb. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra is outstanding, and the textures and colors they create truly marvelous (just listen to the woodwind contributions); lucid and lush and nuanced, and Mackerras' pacing and shaping of this music is no less compelling. The Fantastic Scherzo is performed with élan as well.
Another asset is the superb recorded sound, with a richness and space and perspective rarely matched on record, with a huge dynamic range (a little too much so for some listeners, I'll grudgingly admit). All in all, this is something of a must - urgently recommended.