Leos Svárovský / Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra

Dvorák: Saint Ludmila

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Dvorák's oratorio Saint Ludmila was written in English for the Leeds Festival, and it premiered there in 1886 with a chorus of 250 singers, not matched here. The work followed the Stabat Mater, Op. 58 and Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, both written for English organizations, and Dvorák seems to have decided that if some Englishness was good, more would be better. The original work was gigantic. Criticized for its length, it was cut down by the composer to 41 numbers. Conductor Leos Svárovský and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir hack away at it once again, leaving 26 numbers on the present recordings. The style is heavily influenced by the English choral tradition going back to Handel and Mendelssohn, with lots of festive, tuneful choruses. The subject matter, however, is Czech, and deals with events in the life of the titular Ludmila, who is the patron saint of Bohemia and the grandmother of good king Wenceslas of Christmas carol fame. It's an odd combination, and perhaps because of the cuts the whole thing doesn't entirely hold together. The big choruses will appeal to many listeners, and the Slovak Philharmonic Choir puts some heft into them. Sample the chorus "Kdo onen muz, jejz nestih's nebe blesk?" from part one to see whether you will get into the mood required. The soloists are adequate, but are not the powerhouses that would bring this music to life, and the Concert Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic in Bratislava has a rather boxy acoustic. Recommended for Dvorák enthusiasts as recordings of this work are not terribly common.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Svatá Ludmila (Saint Ludmila)
1 08:31
2 01:09
3 04:24
4 04:24
5 03:50
6 03:18
7 01:42
8 04:47
9 04:19
10 06:34
11 05:22

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Svatá Ludmila (Saint Ludmila)
1 08:20
2 04:19
3 03:32
4 04:34
5 01:15
6 03:26
7 02:57
8 00:22
9 03:00
10 03:45
11 04:02
12 02:59
13 04:07
14 01:35
15 04:29
blue highlight denotes track pick