One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Antonn DVOŘK (1841-1904)
Dumka in D minor, Op.35 [7:22]
Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Dumka in D minor, Op.7 No.5 [5:55]
Antonn DVOŘK
Dumka and Furiant, Op.12 [8:56]
Franz LISZT (1811-86)
Glanes de Woronince No.3 – complainte (Dumka) [4:58]
Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910)
Dumka in E flat minor [4:54]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-93)
Dumka in C minor, Op.59 (Russian rustic scene) [9:48]
Mykola LYSENKO (1842-1912)
Dumka-Shumka, Op.18 (second piano rhapsody on Ukrainian folk themes) [8:51]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Dumkas 1-3 [4:53]
Improvisation on Czech and Slovak folk songs [2:55]
Lada Valešov (piano)
rec. 15-16 July 2013, Martinů Hall, Academy of Music, Prague, Czech Republic
AVIE AV2288 [58:36]

In her well thought out and constructed programme Czech pianist Lada Valešov presents dumkas from sources that include Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Russia and Ukraine. In her introduction she poses the question of how this musical device is so inextricably linked to the expression of the Slavic soul. The word has its origins in the Ukraine where the word 'dumka' is the diminutive of 'duma' which is the name for an epic ballad — a specifically Ukrainian concept that spread across the Slavic lands. Students of Russian history will also know that the first attempts at political debate took place in the closing years of the nineteenth century in the Duma — a tentative version of parliament — with the word 'duma' in this case deriving from the Russian verb dumat (думат) meaning to think or consider. In any event its musical form is a highly successful vehicle through which the feelings of sadness and deep reflection can be explored and expressed although there are times when it is also used to express joy and exuberance.

The disc begins with Dvořk’s 1876 composition Dumka in D minor in which he presents his own melody in dumka form. There's plenty to remind one of Chopin who also used the form in his composition Dumka, Op. 74 No. 19, KK IVb/9. Dvořk’s piece combines melancholic moments with lighter ones; an object lesson for any composer to follow. Significantly the next one is by his favourite pupil and later his son-in-law, Josef Suk whose early work in the same key has at its heart a most beautifully memorable tune. For a nineteen year old this is full of a maturity beyond his years.

Dvořk’s Dumka and Furiant is further removed from melancholia with a distinctly upbeat and confident air that marries the dumka form with the Czech dance, the furiant. Liszt, on the other hand, usually renowned for his flamboyant pianism, is in subdued mood here with a little piece penned for a ten year old daughter of Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein.

Mily Balakirev was one of those composers who enjoyed seeking out traditional tunes played in the myriad villages of the Russian Empire and beyond and then using them to great effect in his music. His Dumka in E flat minor from 1900 is a good example of the contrast between major and minor keys that marks out the essence of the Slavic soul. Tchaikovsky’s Dumka in C minor subtitled Russian rustic scene has a merry little tune framed by the sort of huge sadness that Tchaikovsky could evoke like no other. It perfectly conjures the most palpably crushing loneliness.

Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko is often cited as the father of the dumka and his seven volume survey is the definitive work on the subject. As the notes indicate the opening of his Dumka-Shumka of 1877, which also carries the subtitle of second piano rhapsody on Ukrainian folk themes, wonderfully portrays the cimbalom’s magical sounds. The contrast of those gentle sounds with a passionate stamping dance is extremely evocative.

Jumping from 1877 to 1936 we can see that the dumka is as alive and well in the twentieth century as it was in the nineteenth. Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů's musical mind still betrayed emotional attachments to his homeland despite his being well entrenched in Paris by the time he wrote two of these three pieces. The last was written in New York after both France and Czechoslovakia had been overrun by the Nazis and shows nostalgia for a time that was gone forever. The disc is nicely rounded off by a short improvisation by the pianist on Czech and Slovak folksongs that is both delightful and evocative.

Lada Valešov’s first disc for Avie (review) records music from her Czech homeland. Intimate Studies was critically acclaimed and caused the following comment from The Daily Telegraph ‘In this entirely imaginatively planned recital, Valešov plays with heart-warming sensibility and tonal refinement’. If I could find other words that were equally appropriate to describe this disc then I would but they sum up the feelings I have so perfectly I’ll just say 'ditto'. There are plenty of other piano works from the lands that are covered on this disc. On the strength of it I look forward to Valešov exploring more of those rich veins.

Steve Arloff