Slavonica! was commissioned by the Bloomsbury Music Group for the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble - Shea Lolin, Music Director. They gave the premiere on 25th November 2017 at St John’s Church, Waterloo, London. 

The Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble was founded in 1993 and is an extremely active group, promoting its own series of cleverly themed concerts as well as commissioning many transcriptions and compositions for woodwind orchestra, in essence the woodwind section of a concert band. Many renowned composers have written for the group and Philip Sparke was asked to write a piece for a concert which paid tribute to the Czech Republic and its capital, Prague.

Philip Sparke thought a set of modern ‘Slavonic Dances’ would be appropriate for the programme and has written this set of three dances which are strongly influenced by Dvořák’s famous examples.

1. Lento assai/Presto

The opening dance starts in stern mood with a minor key chorale. A short clarinet cadenza leads to a lively presto which features both major and minor modes, characteristic of Dvořák’s ‘furiant’ Op 46. No 8.

2. Grazioso

The middle movement starts as a gentle and wistful ‘sousedská’ which gradually increases in tempo until a sudden pause reintroduces the original theme.

3. Moderato/Vivo

After a slow, hesitant introduction the final movement bursts into a lively ‘skočná’. Frequent changes of mood and key lead to an extended clarinet cadenza, before the dance returns and accelerates to a whirlwind coda.