'Moravian Dances,' by Leos Janácek (Universal Edition, $24.95)
Janácek immersed himself in the folk songs of his native land
Although highly regarded in his native Czechoslovakia, Leosˆ Janácek came late to international fame. Only recently has he taken his rightful place with his compatriots, Antonín Dvorák and Bed?ich Smetana. Known mostly as an opera composer, Janácek also wrote a substantial body of highly original chamber works, the most famous of which is String Quartet No. 1, inspired by Leo Tolstoy and known as the “Kreutzer” sonata; and the Second Quartet, “Intimate Letters” (both are featured in a recent Grammy-nominated CD by the Emerson String Quartet).
Like Béla Bartók in Transylvania, Janácek immersed himself in the folk songs of his native Moravia and popularized his discoveries from his field trips in orchestral dances and suites and in his opera Jenufa. In 1904, he wrote Moravian Dances for piano, here arranged for violin and piano by Leosˆ Faltus. Universal is to be applauded on its initiative in finding this Janá?ek expert who has turned this treasure chest of folk tunes into a reality for both instruments.
These 17 short pieces range from eight to 52 measures in length and are progressive in difficulty from violin-prep grade through third- or fourth-grade levels. Young violin students will find these lilting, charming dances enjoyable and relaxing to play, while learning rhythmic skills and a variety of bowings to complement the style.
Titles of each are in Czech and German only.