Dvorak Symphony No.7
Dvorak started work on the symphony now known as his seventh in December 1884, completing it in March 1885 ready for the first performance, scheduled for St.James’ Hall in London on April 22nd. The première, under the composer’s baton, was an enormous success, but subsequently Dvorak had great problems arranging the publication of the score and parts. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because he had reservations about its length, he shortened the second movement by about a third, and this shorter version is the one that has been performed ever since: as far as is known, therefore, there is no-one alive who has ever heard the original version… until now!
Jonathan Del Mar has now prepared a new edition of the symphony for publication by Bärenreiter which will include the original version of the slow movement as an appendix. To help in the preparation of the final version of the score and parts, Bromley Symphony Orchestra undertook a play-through of the music on 14th June 2010 under the baton of Adrian Brown, and with Jonathan Del Mar on hand to make any necessary corrections. The corrected parts will then be supplied to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for a performance in Berlin on 30th September, under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras.
With permission of Jonathan Del Mar, I recorded the play-through and present it here. On the evening, we played the entire symphony, including both versions of the slow movement. The recording here is only of the ‘original’ version of the slow movement, and is in fact edited from two ‘takes’, The opening section (approx. 4m 5s) is from the first run-through: this music is the same as the version we all know. After completing the movement, we spotted a number of errors, which we corrected, and also went over various sections about which Adrian or Jonathan were suspicious, in order to find any further mistakes. Having satisfied ourselves that we had found everything we could, we did a second run-through, but only of the new music: the remainder of the recording here is from this second run-through.
Please remember that this was not designed to be a public performance – there may at times be a little extraneous noise, or comments from the conductor: such imperfections will not, I am sure, spoil your enjoyment of this fascinating music.