Peter Breiner: Slovak Dances. © 2020 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd

CD Spotlight

Symphonic Fantasias on Songs

Peter Breiner's 'Slovak Dances, Naughty and Sad', recommended by GERALD FENECH

'Elegant and full of warmth, these dances are imaginatively orchestrated and extremely well crafted, and the playing is wonderfully affective.'


Born in 1957, Peter Breiner is one of the world's leading musicians, and most certainly one of the most played. Indeed he has over two hundred albums to his name, and more than two million records sold. Breiner is a graduate of the Košice Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, where he was one of the last students of Alexander Moyzes.

Between 1992 and 2007 he lived in Toronto, Canada, then moved to New York where, among other things, he was appointed curator and producer of the popular series of chamber concerts known as 'Sounds of Serendipity'. Apart from being a fine pianist, Breiner is also a most sought-after conductor, leading many a great orchestra the world over. The Royal Philharmonic, the Moscow Symphony and the Hungarian State Symphony are just three of the ensembles that have benefited from his outstanding conducting skills, not to mention a host of others.

His most successful projects include Baroque arrangements of well-known tunes and national anthems, and several orchestral adaptations of works by famous composers such as Janáček, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. Breiner narrates that, about fifteen years ago, he received an order to arrange Brahms' Hungarian Dances for the London Symphony Orchestra. This commission inspired him to follow in the footsteps not only of Brahms, but also of Dvořák, the composer's great-grandfather. It occurred to him that all of Slovakia's neighbours and even non-adjacent countries have some form of classical orchestral collection based on folklore material. So why not Slovakia? And so the 'Slovak Dances, Naughty and Sad' were born.

Listen — Peter Breiner: My father is but one big headache (Slovak Dances)
(CD1 track 8, 4:07-4:59) ℗ 2019 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd :

Endowed with an innate gift of fusing music from a vast variety of genres, Breiner's 2015 composition showcases the exuberant and kaleidoscopic elements rooted in Slovak musical folklores, and its sixteen symphonic fantasias on songs evoke varying emotions connected to Breiner's life, from his origins in Humenné and Košice to New York.

Listen — Peter Breiner: On the watchtower of Košice (Slovak Dances)
(CD2 track 4, 4:25-5:21) ℗ 2019 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd :

It's not in the Dvořák and Brahms league, but there is much to enjoy in these pieces. Elegant and full of warmth, these dances are imaginatively orchestrated and extremely well crafted, and the playing is wonderfully affective.

Listen — Peter Breiner: You little gate with bars (Slovak Dances, Naughty and Sad)
(CD2 track 8, 2:49-3:43) ℗ 2019 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd :

The result is nearly one hundred minutes of great entertainment, superbly annotated and recorded. Do take the plunge, you will relish it.

Copyright © 28 November 2020 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta







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