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ClassicsOnline Home » DVORAK, A.: Spectre's bride (The)
Dvorak's The Spectre's Bride
Following the successful British performances of Dvorak's oratorios and liturgical works, the publisher Novello invited the composer to write “something secular of about an hour-duration” for one of the forthcoming English Choir Festivals. The result was the dramatic Cantata The Spectre's Bride (Svatebni Kosile) Op.69, which Dvorak based on the poem version by Karel Jarosmir Erben (1811-1870) of an ancient Slavonic legend about a maid who is seduced towards her death by the ghost of her deceased lover but is redeemed through her prayers to the Virgin Mary.
Dvorak followed Erben’s poem closely in his setting for Soprano (the maid); Tenor (the Spectre); Bass-baritone (narrator) with full four-part SATB chorus and symphony orchestra. After its successful premiere performance (with a choir of 500 conducted by the composer) in Birmingham in 1885, Dvorak claimed it as the work “that surpasses all my previous successes.”
After downloading this recording and following the performance repeatedly with the aid of Novello’s pianoforte reduction by Heinrich von Kaan and English translation of the Czech poem by the Rev. J. Troutbeck, D.D., I have to say that, in every respect, it outclasses the meager field of Supraphon rival recordings of this all-to-seldom performed work.
I must first congratulate the conductor and the recording engineers for the clarity and excellent balance of sound. Throughout the entire performance the superb soloists’ voices can be heard distinctly over the choral commentaries and vigorous orchestration of which, every detail is clearly transparent. Maestro Macal directs the atmospheric music with just the right tempi and rhythmic Slavonic accent that I’m sure the composer intended...
Written at the apex of Dvorak’s inspirational and technical prowess, this wonderful music requires three first-class soloists, a large, highly trained chorus and an orchestra of virtuoso ability, not to mention a sympathetic and dedicated director. Gratefully, Delos has found such a combination to present this recording.
- Hugh Lawrence Monro Wylesmore....
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DVORAK, A.: Spectre's bride (The)