Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tomáš Netopil

Novák: Concertos

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Catalogue Number: SU 4331-2
Published: 13th October 2023
Genre: Orchestral
Format: 1 CD
Dora Novak-Wilmington, Karel Košárek – piano, Clara Nováková – flute, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Tomáš Netopil

The music of Jan Novák (1921–1984) is extraordinary and remarkable as such. However, this recording puts a kind of stamp of authenticity on it since the solo parts are played not only by pianist Karel Košárek but also by both of the composer’s daughters. While flautist Clara Nováková might have gone back in memories to the time when she was fifteen and her father dedicated the first version of Choreae vernales to her, Dora Novak-Wilmington sat on the piano stool instead of her mother, Eliška, who played the instrument as brilliantly as her husband, Jan. In a way, the recording exudes the atmosphere of a family reunion across time. Novák’s Concerto for Two Pianos reflects his impressions of studying with Bohuslav Martinů in New York (where they visited jazz clubs together) as well as his desire for recognition from his teacher. The historical recording of the work (Jan and Eliška Novák, Czech Philharmonic, Karel Ančerl, 1957) deserves to be complemented by a representative modern recording. Concentus biiugis for piano four hands was performed in the year of its creation in the composer’s exile in Germany as a way of supporting Charter 77, an anti-regime movement in his homeland. The first version of Choreae vernales was written in the same year in Italy and three years later Novák clothed it in the colourful attire of string orchestra. It is this nearly unknown version of the composition that is newly recorded here. The orchestra’s involvement and renowned conductor Tomáš Netopil’s distinct musicianship help the soloists to create Jan Novák’s colourful and striking musical landscape.

Another excursion to Jan Novák’s wonderful musical landscape


“What next for Martinů fanciers? This, perhaps: the best of a clutch of releases exploring the music of his student, Jan Novák… Only you won’t hear more authentic performances than these, with one or other of the composer’s dau­ghters involved in every rendition… Tomáš Netopil secures a tighter, fuller response from the strings of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.”
Gramophone, December 2023

“Predominantly pastoral in mood, the Choreae vernales has its edgier moments and Clara provides both amplitude of tone and beguiling virtuosity in its charming middle movement. In the spikier outer movements of the piano concertos Dora and her fellow pianist Karel Košárek’s tight sense of ensemble generates exhilarating impetus while reserving more full-throated emotion for the beguilingly romantic slow movements. The recorded sound manages to capture the way Novák embeds the solo piano sound in the orchestral texture; Tomáš Netopil and the Prague Radio Symphony are on splendid form supplying attentive and idiomatic accompaniment.”
BBC Music Magazine, Christmas issue 2023

“…the Prague Radio Symphony under Tomáš Netopil offer an altogether superior accompaniment with spatial separation of the two players audible… The charm and elegance of the writing is perfectly calibrated for Clare, for whom it was written, though moments of Bacchic vehemence allow her more athletic opportunities… This is a more-than-satisfactory release, finely recorded – well-balanced too – and annotated.”
MusicWeb International, December 2023

“Cet hommage familial, bien épaulé par l’Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Prague, dirigé avec clarté par Tomáš Netopil, s’inscrit dans la discographie de Jan Novák comme une référence qui coule de source.”
Crescendo, January 2024

“Tomáš Netopil reprend le flambeau, rendant justice à ce merveilleux compositeur que viennent défendre ses deux filles : Dora Novák-Wilmington, qui a révisé le partition du Concentus Biiugis (on tient là son premier enregistrement mondial dans cette mouture), et Clara Novakova qui prend la flûte dans les rayonnantes Choreae vernales…”
Artalinna, March 2024

“The most hospitable work in the program is the Choreae Vernales… The finale is quite beautiful, and the work ends with a lively coda. Performances and sound are excellent. Conductor Tomáš Netopil clearly has the credentials for this music and the Prague RSO plays well. If you are a fan of Martinů’s music, this will be right up your alley.”
Fanfare, May 2024

Jan Novák
Concentus biiugis for Piano Four-hands and String Orchestra
1. Allegro energico 06:30
2. Lento 08:27
3. Allegro 08:47
Jan Novák
Choreae vernales for Flute, String Orchestra and Harp with Celesta
4. Con liberta. Allegretto 06:11
5. Andante – Agitato 05:01
6. Lento – Allegro 05:58
Jan Novák
Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra
7. Allegro 12:33
8. Andante 07:46
9. Allegro molto 10:28

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