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Sense of occasion

The Dvorák Day Concert,
enjoyed by KEITH BRAMICH

Music & Arts    CD-1078

Dvorák Day Concert - Josef Suk - Steven Richman. © 2001 Music & Arts

The live concert recorded on this CD took place less than six years ago, but, maybe because 13 September 1997 was in a century that's now over, or maybe because of the historical impact of world events in the intervening years, it really seems that this comes to us from the distant rather than recent past.

The concert celebrated the dedication, earlier that same September day, of a statue to Antonín Dvorák, installed across the street from Dvorák's 1892-5 American base, whilst Director of the National Conservatory of Music of America. The ceremony was attended by New York's (then) first lady, Donna Hanover Giuliani, the Lord Mayor of Prague (accompanied by many Czech diplomats and artists) and Dvorák's grandson Antonín III and great great granddaughter Markéta. The day was officially declared as Dvorák Day by New York City Council. Full details of the long and complex story of the appearance of this statue are included with the fascinating notes in the CD's sixteen page booklet.

First we hear Dvorák's ceremonial and stately Fanfare for the 1891 Prague Exposition [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:10], played by four trumpeters and a timpanist. Anyone in Prague on the morning of 15 May 1891 would have got to know this music rather well -- it was first played from a tower at 6am, and then repeated from various other towers in the city throughout the morning!

Josef Suk (Dvorák's great grandson) and the American pianist Lincoln Mayorga give moving performances of Dvorák's Sonatina in G Op 100 and (in the well-known arrangement by Fritz Kreisler) the Humoresque in G flat Op 101.

Then another rarity -- the first recording of an arrangment for orchestra of the spiritual 'Deep River' from Jubilee Songs by Dvorák's African-American student and later musical assistant, the baritone Harry T Burleigh. Dvorák, fascinated by American folk music, had Burleigh sing negro spirituals to him, and it's thought that Burleigh's performances influenced the last work on the CD, the New World Symphony.

It seems as if no expense was spared -- for an authentic Czech sound in the slow movement of the symphony, conductor Steven Richman brought over the Prague Symphony Orchestra's cor anglais player, Iveta Bachmannová [listen -- track 9, 1:04-1:57].

The good news is that not only was this free concert in St George's Church, Stuyvesant Square -- attended by more than two thousand people -- a resounding success, but the high quality of all the music making and something of the great sense of occasion that was Dvorák Day 1997 have made their way onto the CD.

Copyright © 21 June 2003 Keith Bramich, Eastwood, Essex, UK


Dvorák Day Monument Dedication Concert

CD-1078 DDD Stereo 69'50" 2001 Music and Arts Program of America Inc

Josef Suk, violin; Lincoln Mayorga, piano; Dvorák Festival Orchestra of New York (including members of the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Prague Symphony, NYC Opera, NYC Ballet, Mostly Mozart Festival and Janácek Philharmonic Orchestras); Steven Richman, conductor

Dvorák: Fanfare for the 1891 Prague Exposition; Dvorák: Sonatina in G for violin and piano Op 100; Dvorák arr Kreisler: Humoresque in G flat Op 101 No 7; Harry T Burleigh (1866-1949): Spiritual 'Deep River' from Jubilee Songs, arranged for orchestra (first recording); Dvorák: Symphony No 9 in E minor Op 95 'From the new world'


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