Listening to Dvorák arrangements -
with ROBERT ANDERSON
'... effective and highly accomplished.'
In a disc made up mainly of arrangements, Dvorák's Mazurek
of 1879 stands out as an original piece of graceful panache. It was written
for Pablo Sarasate, who coaxed concertos out of Bruch, Lalo (and the incomparable
Symphonie espagnole), Saint-Saëns and Wieniawski. Dvorák's
violin concerto was dedicated to Joachim, who never played it publicly,
and Sarasate had to be content with this entrancing Mazurek (Silesian
for Mazurka). The piece somehow manages to be Spanish in honour of the violinist,
Polish because of its characteristic dance rhythm, and Bohemian since Dvorák
could never be otherwise [listen -- track 6, 0:00-1:02].
The D minor Ballad was also composed for this medium and begins in
almost obsessive gloom. The middle section, though, has a fiery energy before
reverting to the initial dumps [listen -- track 1,
2:51-4:03]. A piece that should be of equal interest is a Capriccio
that Dvorák did not publish. He revised it in 1892, but the version
on the CD was made by Günther Raphael, who was not always respectful
towards Dvorák's score. The result is a virtuoso piece that manages
to be brilliant and at the same time empty.
Dvorák himself arranged 'Silent Woods' from a set of keyboard
pieces for piano duet, From the Bohemian Forest. The original had
such evocative titles as 'By the Black Lake', 'Witches' Sabbath', and 'In
Troubled Times'. But Dvorák's arrangement was for cello and piano.
It goes well enough on the violin, and the middle section has particular
charm [listen -- track 5, 2:16-3:19]. Dvorák
was also responsible for the Nocturne, which had a total of three
incarnations. It began as the Andante religioso slow movement for an early
String Quartet in E minor. It was next adapted as an Intermezzo for string
quintet, second movement in the G major work published by Simrock without
the Intermezzo but boasting 77 as a misleadingly high opus number. The Nocturne
itself has a firmer grip on reality as Op 40.
Copyright © 11 December 2002
Robert Anderson, London, UK