Vítězslav Novák - Piano Concerto, Toman and the Wood Nymph / Jan Bartoš, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jakub Hrůša
Vítězslav Novák (1870-1949) - Piano Concerto in E minor* (1895). Toman and the Wood Nymph - symphonic poem for large orchestra, Op. 40 (1906-07). At Dusk, Op. 13 (1896, for piano solo)
Jan Bartoš - piano, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor: Jakub Hrůša
The greatest Czech composers - Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček, Suk, Martinů ... And anyone else? Yes, Vítězslav Novák! Who was he? A pupil of Dvořák's, later on one of the most distinguished music creators and teachers on the domestic scene. A Post-Romantic and the first of the generation of Modernists profoundly inspired by Moravian folk music. This year's 150th anniversary of Novák's birth affords the opportunity to take a closer look at his oeuvre - and to rediscover that which has been overlooked. The idea of making the first studio recording of the Piano Concerto, a remarkable early work by the 25-year-old Novák, was enthusiastically endorsed by the superb Czech pianist Jan Bartoš. Due to its intimate nature, At Dusk, Op. 13, a cycle of miniatures for solo piano, inspired by J. S. Machar's poetry, stands in contrast to the concerto's virtuosic stylisation. The tone poem Toman and the Wood Nymph may be deemed the most ambitious of Novák's symphonic works. As the composer himself put it, he strove to express an "uncontrollable torrent of wild passion", referring to the piece as an "orgy of sound" and the ballad as a "depiction of woman's demonic power over man". Jakub Hrůša, a globally renowned contemporary conductor, invites us to rediscover Novák's music: "We are obliged to perform it. His music is so profound and far-reaching that we simply cannot ignore it and let it gather dust in archives and remain buried in music history textbooks."