Dvorak: Czech Suite; Waltzes, Op.54; Polonaise in E flat

COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Supraphon
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorák
WORKS: Czech Suite; Waltzes, Op.54; Polonaise in E flat
PERFORMER: Prague Philharmonia/ Jakub Hrusa
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3867-2
If the Moravian Duets and the first set of Slavonic Dances belong to Dvo?ák’s first flush of nationalism, the Czech Suite and dances on this CD, composed a matter of months later, belong to the second. It was clear to Dvo?ák that the national tone would be much in demand. To his credit, the five movements of the Czech Suite build creatively on the Slavonic Dance recipe with a pastoral prelude and slow movement, and with a more symphonically developed concluding ‘Furiant’.

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Apart from a rather blank reading of the opening ‘Prelude’, Hr??a provides a very winning performance of the Czech Suite. He has a clear feel for developmental line in the ‘Polka’ and ‘Furiant’, and also gives due recognition to the poignancy which is such a vital ingredient of these movements. If as a whole, his performance does not quite match that of his teacher, Ji?í B?lohlávek (on Clarton), it is more than recommendable.

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The splendidly orchestrated Polonaise was a ‘one off’ for a Prague winter ball, but the waltzes were originally for piano. The composer arranged two for strings, but the present version of all eight for full orchestra is by the Dvo?ák scholar, Jarmil Burghauser. A supremely skilled orchestrator, Burghauser went well beyond the slavishly imitative with these marvellously ear-catching arrangements. The Polonaise is given a triumphant outing, and the felicities of Burghauser’s orchestrations of the waltzes are clear at every turn, aided by a recording of commendable definition. Jan Smaczny