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Notes and Editorial Reviews
In 1881 Antonin Dvorak composed a set of ten 'Legends' for piano duet, dedicating them to the influential music critic Eduard Hanslick, who at the time was serving with Johannes Brahms on a committee that awarded Austrian state stipends to young composers of worth. At Hanslick's suggestion, Dvorak introduced himself to Brahms. Brahms, in turn, introduced Dvorak to his publisher, and the rest is history. Dvorak submitted the 'Legends' to the publisher, Fritz Simrock, who eventually requested that Dvorak orchestrate five of them; the composer took up the challenge and in the end orchestrated the entire set.
Dvorak's 'Legends' are delicate pieces, filled with the folksy melodic touches that are constants in the composer's music. The
'Legends' are gentle in tone and touched with just a whisper of melancholy. The Budapest Festival Orchestra under the direction of Iván Fischer has this music "in their blood" and their performances are clearly authoritative. The balance of the disc is filled out with other smaller-scale Dvorák works, the most notable of which is a set of five 'Prague Waltzes,' composed a year before the 'Legends.' Once again the orchestra plays with zest and elegance, making this a worthy addition to the Dvorák discography. Read less
Works on This Recording
Prague Waltzes, B 99 by Antonín Dvorák
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Written: 1879; Bohemia
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
diasappointing March 27, 2012
By David Landau (San Francisco, CA) See All My Reviews
"Ivan Fischer & the Budapest Festival Orchestra have a basic level of excellence. When I wanted to go back to the Legends--which are priceless music, easily at the level of the Slavonic Dances or even above--I reached for Fischer/Budapest. After hearing four or five of the Legends, I wondered: are these pieces really as good as I used to think? I went instead to Jarvi and the Bamberg Symphony. The difference is between fizzing cider and day-old soda. While Fischer has the note and phrase, Jarvi has the dance. That's the vital element in Dvorak--it permeates everything he wrote; every little movement has to dance--and I'm amazed that the Hungarian Fischer, who ought to be a lot closer to these rhythms than the Estonian Jarvi, was flat, if not precisely dead, on arrival. If you're looking for instrumental perfection, it's here; for the music, go elsewhere. Another possibility, from the world of late mono, is that master interpreter of Dvorak, Karel Sejna, with the Czech Philharmonic. And remember: if the music is not dancing, it's not really Dvorak."