Pavol Breslik is an outstanding tenor invited by most prominent opera
houses and concert halls (MET, Covent Garden, Salzburg, Zurich, Vienna, Paris,
Berlin) and besides operatic works, he focuses on song repertoire. After
Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin he took a fancy to Dvořák’s songs and,
accompanied flawlessly by Robert Pechanec, imprinted all of his passion into the
present recording (SU 4215–2).
Your new Supraphon album presents some of Antonín
Dvořák’s songs. What position do songs occupy in your
I began devoting to songs back at the time of my studies at the conservatory in
Žilina, where I performed the Gypsy Songs for the very first time. I then
succeeded with a similar repertoire at the Antonín Dvořák International Vocal
Competition in Karlovy Vary, where I received a prize in the song category.
I have the feeling that songs have always been of great importance for us, the
“Czechoslovaks”, so at all times I have treasured songs in my heart.
The album features songs from the Cypresses, the Evening Songs and
the Gypsy Songs. How did you choose the tracks?
The Gypsy Songs came up naturally; as I have said, I have been singing them
for a long time. The pianist Robert Pechanc and I have performed them for
years. The Evening Songs were new to me, or to be precise, it was the first time
I had sung them. And when it comes to the Cypresses, I was scheduled to
perform them once previously, at the “Dvořák marathon” in Ostrava, yet
I had to cancel my appearance owing to having fallen ill. Robert Pechanec
played the cycle there, and he was intrigued by it, so we agreed that it would
be great to record the work. I think that there are actually very few
recordings of the Cypresses. I confess that initially I deemed it audacious
that I, as a Slovak, would venture into Dvořák’s songs, but I said to
myself that I would throw a stone into the river and see what ripples it
What was it like singing in Czech?
I have to say that Czech is harsher than Slovak, and foreign singers will never
be able to conceal their accent. Yet the most interesting aspect when working
with the Czech language was the accentuation of words in the Cypresses – we
should bear in mind that it was Dvořák’s very first song cycle. That is one
of the reasons why we invited the Czech music director Jiří Gemrot along to
take part in the recording.
Throughout your career, you have very neatly combined opera and song.
The singer should take different approaches to the two disciplines. How have you
succeeded in this respect?
The main difference rests in the fact that when performing songs the singer is
only accompanied by a pianist on stage, thus being naked. The audience merely
focus their attention on the two performers, who have to be in perfect harmony,
have to come across as a single brain and a single breath. On the other hand,
should any difficulties arise during an opera production, you can always hide
behind a prop, or somehow camouflage your indisposition, whereas it is simply
out of the question when performing songs.
You have appeared at the world’s most prestigious opera houses,
including those in New York, London, Vienna and Munich. Do you have any time
left to come back home to Slovakia?
I always strive to go back there, at least for a short time, to sleep in my own
bed for one night or two. I know that is not enough, yet I firmly believe that
I will have the opportunity to spend more time in Slovakia.
And can we look forward to seeing and hearing you in Prague as
I hope so. The worst problem is planning. My calendar is full four or five
years ahead, and I am afraid to say that the Czech opera houses do not prepare
their programmes so long in advance. But I hope a concert could be arranged,
one made up of songs, for instance.
Artists certainly have plenty of music in their heads that they would
like to record. Could you reveal to us what will be your next recording
There is a lot of music out there I would like to record. At the moment, I am
in an album-making period. The next project will be a recording of Eugen
Suchoň’s songs with an orchestra in Bratislava, followed by a recording of
Richard Strauss’s songs, also with an orchestra.