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Songs and Dances of Bohemian Baroque
Musica Bohemia/Jaroslav Krček
rec. Prague 1989 and 1995
Track listing below
SUPRAPHON SU 4098-2 [75:57 + 72:53]

Experience Classicsonline

This twofer is part of Supraphon’s selective reissue programme. The recordings were made in 1989 and 1995 by Musica Bohemica under the artistic direction of Jaroslav Krček. One immediate problem will spring to mind for Anglophones and that relates to the lack of texts and translations, because I can’t see a link to them elsewhere, or to a place where they can be consulted or downloaded. Thus one is very much on one’s own, and will have to take one’s cue from the titles of these dances and folk songs. In truth they’re not overly sophisticated examples of a well-trodden genre, but intelligibility will invariably be a concern.
The music was sourced by Krček, who was born in 1939 and was a pupil of Miloslav Kabeláč, and arranged by him and his younger brother Josef Krček. The arrangements make no pretence to be accurate ‘reconstructions’. They are stylisations, created in the light of respect - but not slavish respect - to the original harmonies. Romantic accretions, however, have been stripped away. Many of the songs and dances were collected in a project begun in 1818 and published in 1825 as Czech Folk Songs, and Old Secular Songs, which consisted of eighteenth century songs from Central Bohemia. Additionally the fiddle player Ondřej Hůlka (1752-1806) noted many early original songs - one was from 1609 - and this formed the basis for another vitally important collection of songs, The dance pieces are from ‘town and country’ alike, which means court and town square in reality. Some derive from the late eighteenth century and are again Bohemian.
Musica Bohemica employs flutes, ‘fipple flutes’, oboes, harps, cimbalons, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies and all manner of exotic colours. There’s a picture of the ensemble, dressed in smocks and the like, in the booklet to which, incidentally, I’m indebted for much of the historical information in this review. There are 14 members pictured in the group, plus, of course, four singers.
There is plenty of variety, and panache, in the performances. There are plangent moments for oboes over harp accompaniment, dances of death with drones, tangy sonic entertainment, bipartite and contrasting songs (fast/slow, melancholy/exhilarating), decorous baroque dances and far more exotic eastern-sounding ones. There are theatrical moments and parlando tales, songs of lost love and adventure, bird-flute imitations and courtly romps. The quartet of singers alternates wistfulness with riotous knowingness. Just occasionally some of the arrangements sound too up to date, but at least they sound part of a continuum of Bohemian folk music, rather than a kitsch experiment in rusticity.
Incidentally on Supraphon SU 4019-2, you’ll find an album of Czech folk songs from the collection of Karel Jaromír Erben played by the same forces as here. Erben used many of the songs persevered by Hůlka. Both are strong entrants.
Jonathan Woolf 

CD 1
Dance of death - Where are we going so fast - Oh, my God, oh my love 1:51
At our Barta´s 1:17
Alia phantasia. From Five Baroque Dances 1:16
Alia non illepide. From Five Baroque Dances 1:29
Alia I. From Five Baroque Dances 1:26
Alia II. From Five Baroque Dances 2:10
Saltus civilis. From Five Baroque Dances 2:01
Bon Repo dance of death 2:32
Valachica 2:30.
She cooked cakes in cold water - A maid walked sadly. From Dances from Hana 1:52
At a fair in Prostejov. From Dances from Hana 1:43
Dance Song. From Dances from Hana 2:37
Kate, Kate, Kitty. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:49
Go, my true love, go to the woods. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:44
In our yard. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:28
Look, they are pulling down the Krumlov castle. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:21
Those bells of the monastery - Unploughed fields. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:09
Oh, my own lad. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:17
My love is from Rajov. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:39
Hey, carrier, carrier - I am a carrier. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:47
.All girls of monastical village. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:28
The country is green all around the monastery. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:51
The peasant is coming from Prague. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 3:49
In our village green. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 4:06
They are putting horses on in the monastery. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:29
Grass is green around the monastery. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:23
Look, girl, look. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:26
Those sheep of Krnany. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 3:00
From the ground I have come onto the ground. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 3:18
There are fields around the monastery. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:47
If there were war - Look at me. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:15
Go to the forest, my sweetheart - An oak tree is growing. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 2:12
On our village green. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 3:10
Hey, lad, put the horses on. From Ondrej Hulka´s Collection from Zlata Koruna 1:40
CD 2
1.Ten Dances from the Second Half of the 18. Century 10:50
Nos. 23 and 54 from Caslavsko 1:23.
Nos. 24 and 55 from Caslavsko 1:46
No. 21 from Caslavsko 1:38
No. 15 from Klatovsko 1:18
Nos. 35 and 46 from Loketsko 2:17.
Nos. 9 and 10 from Plzensko 2:28
Autumn season come 2:14
As she climbed into the carriage 2:134
And I shall not be here 2:04
Wait now, carrier boy 2:19
Why oh why, sweetheart of mine 2:02
Slow rise 3:18
If only I knew 1:51
The sorrow I have 2:09
Meadow, meadow 1:24
My chubby lassie 1:31.
So sad, I wouldn´t have known 1:50
Slapdash 1:25
I had a sweet dove 2:47
Yesterday the sun shone for me 3:08
If, by God´s grace 2:32
Pay me, oh farmer 1:58
My cherished meadows of Dolany 2:02
The old country tavern 2:24
The nightingale´s song 1:24
Round about Prague 2:27
Green is the meadow 2:18
How cruel love can be 1:08
Leave me alone, my laddie 2:46
Is it true or is it not 2:52
As I will ride through the wood 2:11
The linden tree stood all alight 2:11
Go to sleep dark eyes 2:34
As you pass by the entrance gate 2:45 

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