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Dvorak Songs

Album cover image

SU 0206-2 211

--© Supraphon 1967, 1974, 1983

Ivan Moravec accompanies Věra Soukupová in Dvorak's Biblical Songs (Biblické Písně). Album also features Evening Songs and Gypsy Songs with other artists.

Tracks

Biblical Songs (Biblické Písně), Op. 99 on text of Czech Bible of Kralice

  • 1 Clouds and darkness are round about him (Psalm 97)

  • 2 Thou art my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119)

  • 3 Hear, my prayer, O God (Psalm 55)

  • 4 The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23)

  • 5 I will sing a new song unto thee, O God (Psalm 144)

  • 6 Hear my cry, O God (Psalm 61)

  • 7 By the waters of Babylon (Psalm 137)

  • 8 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me (Psalm 25)

  • 9 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills (Psalm 121)

  • 10 O sing unto the Lord a new song (Psalm 96)

Věra Soukupová, alto; Ivan Moravec, piano

Gypsy Songs (Cikánské Melodie), Op. 55 on text of Adolf Heyduk

  • 11 My song resounds with love again

  • 12 Ah! How wondrously my triangle sounds

  • 13 And the wood is silent all around

  • 14 Songs my mother taught me

  • 15 The strings are tuned, my lad, time to dance and reel

  • 16 Wide sleeves and loose trousers better suit the Gypsy

  • 17 Give the proud hawk a cage of pure gold

Jindrich Jindrák, baritone; Alfred Holeček, piano

Evening Songs (Večerní Písně ), Op. 3 on text of Vítězslav Hálek

  • 18 The stars that twinkle in the sky

  • 19 I dreamed last night that you were dead

  • 20 I am that knight of fairy tale

  • 21 When God was in a happy mood

Beno Blachut, tenor; Ferdinand Pohlreich, piano

Love Songs (Písně Milostné), op. 83 on text of Gustav Pflegr-Moravsky

  • 22 The happy flower unfurls not

  • 23 Death dwells in many a human heart

  • 24 Now as by that house I tread

  • 25 I know that in sweet hopefulness

  • 26 Over the land reigns a peaceful repose

  • 27 Lonely in the wood I stand

  • 28 In the sweet power of thine eyes

  • 29 My only dear one, my dear love

Beno Blachut, tenor; Ferdinand Pohlreich, piano


Reviews

No reviews available. I like it, if that counts. It is also Ivan Moravec's only known recording as an accompanist. An interesting companion piece is the live Prague Gala Concert DVD from VAI, which features Bernarda Fink singing Biblical Songs 1-5 with orchestral accompaniment, in addition to Moravec playing the Mozart Concerto no. 20.

--Ed.

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Album notes

19th-century Romanticism was a period particularly favourable to chamber songs with piano accompaniment having opened out an impressive fan of ideas and themes. Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) entered this realm of intimacy quite naturally already in his early works, setting poetry which corresponded to his current state of mind. His first large cycle Cypresses, in which he set the melancholic love poetry of Gustav Pfleger-Moravsky (1865) reflected the composer's unrequited love for the young actress Josefina Cermakova.

Think about a young man in love - this is what they are about, Dvorak wrote to his publisher Simrock when, a quarter of a century later (in 1888), he was preparing the reissue of a part of the collection under the title Love Songs. He revised the incorrect declamation of the texts which his friend Bendl had pointed out to him already at the time when he wrote the songs, and newly stylized the piano accompaniment, thus reviving a piece which - thanks to its emotional content - remained dear to him for the whole of his life.

Evening Songs (1876) are also a large cycle, divided between several opus numbers. Dvorak set the simple, songful verse of Vitezslav Halek in a poetic but not particularly a personally-expressive style: the music lacks the typical features of his musicality so remarkable in the Moravian Duets created at the same time. As in the case of Cypresses, Dvorak returned to Evening Songs several years later (1882) and arranged some of them for his friend, the baritone Josef Lev as opus number 31. Gypsy Melodies (1880) already radiate the typical Dvorak warmth. In them, Dvorak set the poems of Adolf Heyduk (published in 1859) that were a romantic view of the freedom of gypsy life stressing the gypsies' spontaneous love of music and singing. The best example is the song Kdyz mne stara matka (Songs my mother taught me) which has since become one of the most popular pieces of his extensive output. Gypsy Melodies were composed to German texts (translated by Heyduk) and dedicated to Dvorak's admirer, the Viennese chamber singer Gustav Walter.

With Biblical Songs (1894) Dvorak rounded off his contribution to the genre of songs, and wrote, in New York and at a time of a personal crisis, an epilogue of sorts, having resorted to the book of Psalms for consolation and encouragement. The songs to the ancient texts of the Bible of Kralice are unparalleled in terms of intensity of inner feeling, humbleness, and joy, and are a reflection of Dvorak's sincere piousness as well as his extraordinary penetration into the depths of the biblical texts.

In the present recording, Dvorak's songs are performed by artists who wrote a chapter in the history of the National Theatre Opera in Prague. The tenor Beno Blachut (1913 -1985), associated particularly with the operas of Smetana, Dvorak, and Janacek, the baritone Jindrich Jindrak (1931-1994), known for his emotional lyricism, and the mezzo-soprano Vera Soukapova who appeared as guest at the Hamburg Opera and as soloist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra were artists who also excelled in the genre of chamber songs.

--© Karel Mlejnek 1995 Translation © Zoja Joachimová 1995

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