As I was preparing the Dvorak Czech Suite, I realized the dances I was playing were things that most of us in America didn’t come across too often. Sure, there are traditional Pastorale, Romance movements that you’d find anywhere. And we all pretty much know what to expect from a Polka.
But what about a Sousedská? This dance shows up disguised as a traditional minuet, but after a few times through it, I realized there was more to it than we normally get from a minuet. It is in ¾ time like a minuet, but features a calm, swaying character.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz-FiFdHDZg has a band playing a Sousedská.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9KzMwRizEg has dancers from the Czech Republic dancing the traditional Sousedská.
Dvorak spices up the Sousedská in the Czech Suite by having extra emphasis on the second and third beats from time to time.
The other dance I didn’t recognize was the Furiant in the final movement. The Furiant is a fiery Bohemian dance in 2/4 and 3/4 time, frequently shifting accents. In both of the following examples you can find the shifting from 2/4 to 3/4 time and the havoc it wreaks with the dancers!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6t-r5vDHuo has a group from the Czech Republic playing/singing a Furiant.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqEOn5C9Gdo is a video of a Furiant from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride.
Hopefully you’ll remember this little bit of background on the Czech dances Dvorak employs when you hear the Czech Suite this weekend!