ANTONIN DVORAK (1841-1904): Serenade for Wind
LEOS JANACEK (1854-1928): Mladi
GEORGE ENESCU (1811-1955): Dixtuor
Familiar as much of the music of Antonin Dvotak is inboth the concert hall and on recordings, the Wind Serenade is one of hismore unjustly neglected works on disc, falling in the shadow as it does of themuch better known Serenade for Strings. Despite this, it is one of Dvotak'ssunniest and most delightful compositions.
Born in the Bohemian part of the Habsburg Empire in 1841,Dvotak was to become one of the great nationalist composers of the Czech landsin the nineteenth century, the years when his compatriots were trying toestablish their own national identity away from the dominant Germanic school ofcomposition, His music is filled with folk themes, joyful celebrations of hishomeland and sometimes sad longing for that mixture of emotions which seems torepresent the
Slavonic spirit of his people, As well as that, there is oftenan elegance derived from the influence of Mozart and Schubert, very apparent inthe Serenade.
Dvotak's life was mainly a fairly contented existencedespite the upheavals of nineteenth century history taking place around him.
Nowadays he is chiefly remembered internationally for his later symphonies andchamber works and the valedictory Cello Concerto which he composed,together with the famous New World Symphony and his fairy-taleopera Rusalka, towards the end of his life.
The Wind Serenade dates from 1878, just two years beforehis sunny Sixth Symphony with which it shares many of its qualities. Thework opens with a march suggesting all the pomp of the local village bands thatDvotak knew so well. This is followed by a Minuetto, a title thatbetrays the homage to the rococo wind serenade and to Mozart, although thepiece owes as much to a triple time Bohemian folk-dance as it does to theclassical court dance A flowing Andante makes up the third movementbefore the Allegro molto finale rounds off the work with a return to theopening theme.
The Romanian composer George Enescu was very differentfrom Dvorak. The quintessentially Czech nature of Dvorak's music has no realparallels here;
Enescu was more of an internationalist and spent most ofhis time as a performer rather than a composer, beconting a well known Bachspecialist both as a conductor and as an acclaimed violinist. His life-span of nearly75 years produced only 32 opus-numbered works and a handful of juvenilia. Bornin 1881 in the Romanian town of Liveni Vima, he spent much of his time abroadand died in Paris in 1955.
Apart from his own recordings as conductor and soloist,his most important works are his symphonies and the opera Oedipe.
Although his output is small, he is still considered to be the founder ofmodern Romanian music.
If Dvorak's Serenade reflects the elegance of the rococogenre, then it is easy to see the influence of Bach in Enescu's Dixtuor.
The three movements are scored for ten wind instruments as is the Dvorak butthere is a more international feeling about the music despite a nod to thepipes of the composer's native Romania in the final part. The Dixtuor
received its first performance in Paris in 1906.
The music of JanaCek is nowadays widely played and hisoperas are some of the staple elements of international theatres, yet, this wasnot always the case.
It is not too long ago that his declamatory style and oddrhythms put him in the class of 'difficult' composers. That much of his musicis vocal or operatic and written in the Czech language meant problems at least linguisticallyin exporting his works. Janacek was not just an optimist, but also a patriotfor the Czechoslovak cause and a dedicated pan-slavist and admirer of Russianculture.
Born in 1854 in Hukvaldy in Moravia, the fifth of thenine children of the local schoolteacher, Jan3Cek is remarkable in not havingreached his musical maturity until the composition of his opera Jenufa
which took him nine years to write between 1894 and 1903 and which, althoughperformed in Brno in 1904, made
JanaCek's fortune only when it opened in Prague in 1916.
The major works of his maturity now streamed from his pen as he found love,albeit unreciprocated, late in his life with the young Kamila Stosslova to whomhe wrote over 700 letters.
One of the products of this genuinely new-found youth wasthe wind sextet Mladi (Youth) written for his own seventieth birthday inJuly 1924, only four years before his death, The piece is consciously based onthe composer's own youth when he was a chorister in Brno and pupil of Pavel Krizkovskyand in the third movement, Vivace, it quotes from his March of theBlue Boys. The Moravian folk melodies of the work's four movements comefrom the area of Janacek's birth and have a melodic quality not found in all ofthe composer's music. Beginning with an Allegro in Rondo form,there follows a slow movement theme and variations in D flat. Then comes the BlueBoys March with its echoes of the composer's own youth and finally the Allegroanimato returns to the opening themes of the work.