Antonín Dvořák – Slavonic Dances, Series I, Op. 46 (1878), Series II, Op. 72 (1887)
Prague Symphony Orchestra, conductor Tomáš Brauner
Slavonic Dances with the Prague Symphony Orchestra – Dvořák in good hands
Highly impressed by the Moravian Duets, even though the set had yet to be issued, the Berlin-based publisher Fritz Simrock wrote to the young Antonín Dvořák, commissioning from him another work and outlining his idea of its being in the fashion of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. The composer duly sketched the first series of Slavonic Dances within a few hours, and completed the version for piano four hands in three weeks. At the same time, he worked on the orchestration. In an extensive essay in the National-Zeitung in Berlin, the influential critic Louis Ehlert lauded Dvořák so keenly that he brought the then unknown Czech artist overnight fame: “I consider the Slavonic Dances a piece that will circle the world just as Brahms’s Hungarian Dances have … Divine naturalness circulates in this music … Dvořák writes such cheerful and singular basslines that the heart of a true musician jumps for joy … I think how wonderful it would be to see once again emerging a musician about whom we would need to argue as little as about spring.” During the first year after its publication, selected Slavonic Dances were performed in Prague, New York, Boston, London, Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, Bonn, Nice, Graz, Lucerne, and other cities … Dvořák’s music is deeply engraved in the DNA of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, who have performed it under conductors of such renown as Jiří Bělohlávek, Charles Mackerras, Václav Neumann, Tomáš Netopil, etc. The new recording, made with Tomáš Brauner, the orchestra’s current music director, draws upon an illustrious interpretation tradition, with its rounded and transparent sound capturing the best qualities of the exquisite Art Nouveau Smetana Hall of the Municipal House in Prague.