Dvorak / Janacek / Ciconia Consort - Slavic Rhapsody | RECORD STORE DAY

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The soul of Bohemia: familiar masterpieces and little-known gems for string ensemble by the five most famous Czech composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The affection and vigour of Dvorák's Serenade for Strings has kept it's freshness while many other works from the same era have receded into obscurity. This performance by the Ciconia Consort lends it a new lease of life: as rhythmically springy and attentive to detail as the ensembles previous, critically acclaimed explorations of the string-orchestra repertoire of France, England, the US and Germany in beautifully curated themes. Janácek's Suite for Strings is an early work, Romantic in character and recognisably descended from the String Serenades of Dvorák and Tchaikovsky, but nonetheless characteristic of the composer's quirky language with it's adoption of Czech speech rhythms. In 1931, Martinu was also inspired by Czech folk melodies when writing his Partita as a Czech émigré in faraway Paris. However, Martinu develops these melodies in a modern style reminiscent of Béla Bartók. Without slow movements, intimacy, or a poetic character, the character of the suite as a whole is spicy, tough and extrovert: inimitably Martinu. Smetana scored his tone-picture Rybár (The Fisherman), for harmonium, harp, and strings: it is a musical 'tableau vivant' after Goethe's poem Der Fischer, which describes a fisherman who is overpowered by the mysterious and magical pull of the water. The theme of Rybár and Smetana's haunting translation into music also make it a kind of study for his evocation of the river Vltava in Ma Vlast. A little more familiar is the grave Meditation on the Hymn to St Wenceslas by Dvorák's student and son-in-law, Josef Suk, in which the old melody is treated like a family heirloom.