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Jiri Belohlavek Dvořak - Slavonic Dances / WGBH | WCRB 'CD Of the Week'

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Jiri Belohlavek leads the Czech Philharmonic in the complete set of the Czech composer's famed Slavonic Dances. There is perhaps no repertoire more evocative than the rolling verdant countryside of the Czech Republic than Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. Recorded in Dvorak Hall in the heart of Prague, compatriot Belohlavek conducts the Czech Philharmonic in the set of sixteen works derived from Dvorak's adoration of Czech folklore and dance traditions.

In two sets, the Op.46 Slavonic Dances were such a success on release (in the late 1800's) that Dvorak's publisher immediately commissioned a further set (to become the Op.72) – which inspired an equally enthusiastic reception. Unlike Brahms in the Hungarian Dances, Dvořák did not draw on real folk dances but instead made use of characteristic styles and rhythms as stimulus to his own imagination. The first group, Op.46, draws almost entirely on four Bohemian dances, though it should be said that Czech ethnomusicologists have enthusiastically traced elements of a wide variety of characteristic dances in each of them. However, Dvořák is not transcribing folk music but making imaginative forays into many similar and contrasting folk-dance styles.