As long as there’s been music, we’ve had dance. That irresistible urge to move our bodies in time with sound and rhythm is a powerful force that binds us collectively and strips away social hierarchies. From the dawn of time, dance has belonged to everyone and no one, from the old to the young, kings to courtiers. In Dance!, violinist Daniel Hope takes us on a whirlwind voyage through our long love affair with movement, whether expressed through the waltz, tango, tarantella, or the unbridled joy and energy of a folk dance. The concept behind Dance!, Hope tells Apple Music Classical, had been in the works a fair time. “It’s a journey that has taken me 20 years to put together,” he says, “but it was actually the best thing that could have happened, as I would not otherwise have met most of the people that appear on the album. Alongside the Zürcher Kammerorchester (Zurich Chamber Orchestra), of which Hope has been music director since 2016, Dance! now includes the incredible artistry of cimbalom player Jenö Lisztes, plus Omar Massa on bandoneon and harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet. The journey has become longer, too. “Originally, we had 500 years of dance, but now it’s 700,” laughs Hope, “and it’s also now a double album. Actually, I could have easily made five or six. Dance really is that massive.” Listening to the album, which takes us from 14th-century Italy to 20th-century Argentina, via Austria, France, the US, and England, is a powerful reminder that music can transcend time and place through sheer energy and originality. As Hope transports us back and forth across ages and cultures, we start to lose the notion that these pieces belong to any particular period. “Twentieth-century composers like Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Bartók were musical pioneers—and Prokofiev set new levels and new standards in ballet and ballet music. But there’s nothing less intense about the 14th-century Lamento di Tristano. That’s where it starts,” says Hope of this arresting medieval piece. “It’s one of the earliest notated pieces of dance and it makes you sit up and take notice of it. But if you look at something like Orawa by Kilar, which was composed in the 1980s, you wouldn’t necessarily see a connection between them, and yet they’re both infiltrated by folk music, by folk musicians, by something that is otherworldly, perhaps even supernatural.” As Hope suggests, the “danceability” of much of this music is surely down to the fact that many of the featured composers were passionate dancers themselves. “Mozart was dancing at the age of five in a theater in Salzburg. He danced all his life. Erwin Schulhoff danced every night in the nightclubs of Berlin and wrote to Alban Berg that he had a total and utter obsession with it. I was comforted by the fact that there’s something very visceral in a number of these compositions.” There’s no doubt, too, Louis XIV’s burning desire to dance was the inspiration behind one of the most joyous, infectiously rhythmic pieces on the album: Lully’s “Marche pour la cérémonie des Turques” from his 1670 ballet Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. What these composers, and monarchs, were enjoying, however, were not necessarily the formal dances we see in period dramas or in engravings and paintings, but something much freer and more uninhibited. “That’s part of the reason the Catholic church banned most dancing from the 16th century onwards,” says Hope. “The sarabande, for instance, was considered to be obscene—it was unfitting that a man and a woman should get so close together and dance in an erotic nature. This was totally dangerous to the conformity of Europe. Similarly, the fandango, which originated in Latin America, caused a scandal in Europe, while people like Mozart picked it up and made it their own.” Of course, these dances would be considered tame in today’s climate, but were there any pieces that took Hope by surprise? “Schubert just knocks me out every time,” he admits, “but the end of the 5 German Dances really is extraordinary, with its sense of dark brooding among the joy.” He mentions, too, the traditional Odessa Bulgar, which gave Hope the chance to play with an array of artists including Jenö Lisztes, a musician he regards as perhaps the greatest cimbalom player in the world. “This piece has this relentless energy that just explodes when those guys play. I was just really lucky enough to jump in with them.” Does Hope indulge in a little dancing himself? “Badly!” he insists. “I love dancing and I do it extremely enthusiastically. I’ve always moved around while playing. I just feel a lot of this music and I noticed that it takes hold of me. Dance has always been inherent in the way I make music. I think if you can free your inhibitions, you can become a better dancer.”

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