24 April 2009

Janáček and Dvořák

Last week, while driving to and from Grand Rapids, Michigan, I listened to a CD containing the music of the great Czech composer, Leoš Janáček. My favourite of his pieces is easily the rousing Sinfonietta, the first movement of which I linked to on the first day of the year. This time I listened to his Lachian Dances, which he published shortly before his death in 1928 but began working on as early as 1888. Though I've heard them many times over the past three decades, it was only during my recent automobile trip that it finally dawned on me that they are obviously inspired by Antonín Dvořák's better known Slavonic Dances. I was surprised that I hadn't before noticed this.

While I appreciate the Lachian Dances, they are not amongst Janáček's better compositions, in my opinion, and they certainly cannot compare with Dvořák's Slavonic Dances. Listen and decide for yourself. Immediately below is the second movement of the former, titled Pozehnany ("Blessed"), followed by Slavonic Dance number 5, my personal favourite:



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