Some suggestions for a cold and wet English weekend

In my home town, Lewes, in the southern UK, the weekend was cold, in an English way, and wet, in a very English way. There are many methods for keeping yourself warm and cheerful when England decides to go grey. On Sunday, I decided to go down the log fire route. Something that can be the perfect accompaniment to fireside pleasure is a modest glass of Scotch whisky. The combination did the trick. I soon felt warm inside and out.

The third ingredient wasn’t English, or Scottish, at all. It was Czech in fact. There’s nothing quite like the chamber music of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) if you want the musical equivalent of mellowing glass of whisky. In my history of music project, I’m now in 1878 and this weekend’s music was Dvorak’s truly lovely String Sextet in A major Op. 48. Brahms, a mentor and admirer of Dvorak, described the piece as “endlessly beautiful’ – he wasn’t wrong.

I’ve been listening to the version recorded by the Boston Symphony Chamber Players but here are the players from Frankfurt’s Amici Ensemble playing the second movement, one of Dvorak’s many takes on the Dumka, a traditional slavic dance form that celebrated delicate melancholy pleasures. It fitted my mood perfectly.

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