Sunday, August 05, 2012

Sunday Classics: Dvořák's "Slavonic Dances": a world, or 16 worlds, in 16 miniatures


Probably the greatest Czech conductor (at least of the stay-at-home-Czech variety) of whom we have record, Václav Talich, conducts the Czech Philharmonic in Dvořák's Slavonic Dance No. 10 in E minor, Op. 72, No. 2 (a dumka), in this 1955 video.

by Ken

I've made this point before, but we need to make it again before proceeding to the Slavonic Dances, as promised in Friday night's preview (when we heard both the first of them in both the original piano-duet version and the composer's orchestration. Although it was obvious from the outset that Dvořák's Slavonic Dances were inspired by Brahms's Hungarian Dances, which proved a huge commercial success, what Brahms was producing was genuine trifles -- luscious trifles, but still (mostly) trifles, which doesn't seem to me at all the case with the Slavonic Dances.

I've also argued that the Hungarian Dances seem to me more effective, more atmospheric, in their original piano-duet form, where they really create a sound world of their own -- though necessarily a sound world limited by what you can get from four hands pounding a single piano keyboard.

An obvious example is the most famous of the Hungarian Dances. Note that the prevailing form in all these dances is our old friend A-B-A, most often either fast-slow-fast or slow-fast-slow, but in any case with a contrasting mood for the middle section.

BRAHMS: Hungarian Dance No. 5: Allegro

original version for piano duet: in F-sharp minor

Alfred Brendel and Walter Klein, piano. Vox, recorded 1956

orchestral version by Martin Schmeling: in G minor

Staatskapelle Berlin, Otmar Suitner, cond. Denon/Deutsche Schallplatten, recorded Aug. 28-Sept. 2, 1989

violin-and-piano version by Joseph Joachim: in G minor

Fritz Kreisler, violin; Carl Lamson, piano. Victor, recorded Feb. 17, 1916



Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home