Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4215-2

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 repertoire?
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 would make.

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 well?
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 project?
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.

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