Kateřina Kněžíková – soprano, Jana Hrochová – mezzo-soprano, Boris Stěpanov – tenor, Jiří Brückler – baritone, Lukáš Hynek-Krämer – bass, etc., Kiril Gerstein, Zoltán Fejérvári, Katia Skanavi, Alexandra Stychkina – piano, Zemlinsky Quartet, Belfiato Quintet, etc., Prague Philharmonic Choir, conductor Lukáš Vasilek
Leoš Janáček and the generation younger Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky were major 20th-century composers markedly influenced by folk music, bringing it to bear in their own creations. Janáček and Bartók also keenly devoted to folklore as theoreticians and collected folk songs around the villages. Stravinsky, for his part, was mesmerised by folk rituals. A case in point is Les noces, which in four choreographed scenes depicts Russian wedding customs. Following significant revisions of the instrumentation, the fourth, definitive, version of the piece received its world premiere in 1923 in Paris, as performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, to Bronislava Nijinska’s choreography. Janáček conceived his Nursery Rhymes at the age of 71, shortly after completing the opera The Makropulous Case. He too made changes to the instrumentation before arriving at a satisfactory form. The second version of the set bears witness to Janáček’s being enthralled by Stravinsky’s music. The Three Village Scenes for female voices and chamber orchestra feature arrangements of folk tunes Bartók collected in the Zvolen district in today´s Slovakia. The set is evidently influenced by Stravinsky’s style as well. The three challenging works have been undertaken by Lukáš Vasilek conducting the outstanding Prague Philharmonic Choir, which on numerous occasions have displayed its exceptional qualities and a great sense for performing music inspired by folk art. The album links up to the highly acclaimed recording of Bohuslav Martinů’s cantatas (Gramophone Editor’s Choice, nomination for the BBC Music Magazine Award).
The rediscovered magic of folk songs and traditional rituals in the music of three 20th–century masters