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.
“Dans cette intégrale des deux séries des Danses slaves, Tomáš Brauner ne cherche pas la virtuosité pour la virtuosité dans une veine démonstrative. Sa direction est allante et galvanisante mais elle veille à prendre soin des nuances et des détails avec ce qu’il faut de style et d'esprit. On pointe une indéniable nostalgie de cet univers dansant et syncopé sous cette battue fine et racée. Le Prague Symphony Orchestra livre de belles couleurs dans le rendu des textures, en particulier dans les bois encore typés. La prise de son Suprahon restitue parfaitement tant les dynamiques que les couleurs des pupitres.” Crescendo, December 2023
“Brauner and the Prague Symphony Orchestra know this musicbackwards, but they show a litle sign of taking familiar native repertoire for granted. The brash, curtain-raising opening of the first dance may be a touch hectoring, but what follows is a full of ear-catching detail. Each dance is given a distinctive character and Brauner always has an eye to Dvořák's skilful countermelodies. The string sound is lean and theri is much fine woodwind detail, most delightfully in the canonic duet between oboe and bassoon in the C minor dance… Overall, there is some fine performing here and, with vivid recording sound, much to enjoy.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2024
“The opening furiant of the Op 46 set steps confidently out, big, bold and extrovert. Brauner and his orchestra have an unforced sense of the ebb and flow of this music; the transitions feel natural and the slower dances (such as the E minor, Op 72 No 2) lilt and sway without wallowing. Here, and in the more moderately paced dances (such as the C minor, Op 46 No 7), Brauner leans discreetly on the tempo to keep things moving. The Prague woodwinds are especially characterful, and you could genuinely dance to the entire disc.” Gramophone, February 2024