Under their chief conductor Tomáš Brauner, the Prague Symphony Orchestra have made a new album featuring Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, one of the most popular Czech musical works. Recorded at the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House in Prague, it will be released by Supraphon on Friday 8 December 2023, on CD and on digital platforms alike.
The Slavonic Dances were commissioned by the Berlin-based publisher Fritz Simrock, who, highly impressed by the Moravian Duets, asked Antonín Dvořák to write something in the fashion of Johannes Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. The young composer got down to work with great zest and within three weeks had completed the first series of Slavonic Dances for piano four hands, as well as for orchestra, which would gain immediate popularity and bring the artist global fame. Nine years later, Dvořák conceived the second series of Slavonic Dances, which is even more magnificent and variegated.
Having Dvořák deeply engraved in their DNA, the Prague Symphony Orchestra perform the Slavonic Dances with immense energy, joy and feeling. The conductor Tomáš Brauner draws upon the illustrious tradition pursued by his predecessors, including Václav Neumann, Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Charles Mackerras and Tomáš Netopil. The new recording attests to the Prague Symphony Orchestra’s excellence and artistic ripening.
Martin Rudovský, the Prague Symphony Orchestra’s programme director, said: “I would venture to say that it is a benchmark recording, when it comes to expression, tempos and other facets too. This quality is the result of several circumstances. Firstly, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, naturally, specialises in Czech music, with Dvořák’s being no exception. Secondly, they have regularly performed the Slavonic Dances, which since 1990 have constituted their extremely popular New Year’s concert in Prague. And thirdly, there is a mystic reason: Ladislav Šaloun’s statue titled ‘Slavonic Dances’ gazed down upon the recording sessions at the Municipal House.”
The Prague Symphony Orchestra will soon perform the Slavonic Dances in Japan within a tour that will commence on 1 January 2024, the day when the 100th Year of Czech Music will start too. Martin Rudovský added: “Almost every concert we are scheduled to give in 2024 will reflect the Year of Czech Music: all the foreign guest conductors (January–June) have included Czech music in their programmes. For instance, Ion Marin will perform Janáček’s Sinfonietta, Case Scaglione Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Leonard Slatkin Husa’s Music for Prague 1968. In the second half of the year, our orchestra will solely appear under Czech conductors. I would also like to point out that within the Year of Czech Music the Prague Symphony Orchestra will play Smetana’s My Country on 19 June 2024 at Vyšehrad. And next October we will celebrate our 90th anniversary with special birthday concerts.”