Jan Novák (1921-1984) - Testamentum for solos, mixed chorus and four horns, Fugae Vergilianae* for mixed chorus, Invitatio pastorum* for solos, mixed chorus and flute, Exercitia mythologica for solos and mixed chorus
Martinů Voices, chorus master: Lukáš Vasilek. Guests: Clara Nováková - transverse flute, Jan Vobořil, Petr Hernych, Kateřina Javůrková, Zdeněk Vašina - French horn
Jan Novák's oeuvre has not received the attention it undoubtedly deserves. The composer himself considered "crucial and epochal" for his work the six months he spent in New York, during which time he took lessons from Bohuslav Martinů. Following his return home in 1948, he was expelled from the Czechoslovak Union of Composers owing to his openness and "commotions", yet he received commissions from leading film directors (Kachyňa, Trnka, Zeman). In the wake of the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Novák and his family stayed abroad and lived in exile in Germany, Denmark and Italy. Novák was a banned composer in his homeland. His music is noted for its lightness, elegance, humour and slight provocation, and, in addition to Martinů and jazz, was inspired by Latin, which he perfectly mastered, applied (almost exclusively) in his works and also used in everyday life. The remarkable young Martinů Voices ensemble presents Jan Novák's choral pieces, with two of them released on CD for the very first time. A special guest on the album is the composer's daughter Clara Nováková, for whom he wrote the flute part in Invitatio pastorum.
Jan Novák's choral works - new worlds well worth discovering.
“The choral pieces recorded here reflect Novak's fascination with Latin…They also make considerable demands upon the technique and quickwittedness of the brilliant singers and conductor here…A most entertaining and exhilarating disc of music by an inventive and intelligent composer.“ Gramophone, November 2014
“This disc of choral works…can be highly recommended both for the quality of the music and for performances of jaw-dropping skill and insight by the Martinu Voices…The least immediately approachable music of the disc, this work [Fugae Vergilianae] becomes just as deeply rewarding as the other with repeated listening.“ International Record Review, December 2014
“Little of Jan Novak's music is readily available on CD, and this new disc suggests more of it should be…The 13-strong Martinu Voices give precise, characterful performances, and the sound is excellent.“ BBC Music Magazine, January 2015