Although folksong and dance are never far away from the sound palette of Czech composers, the sophistication of the music is indisputable – and in this territory Dvořák is the undisputed master. Of his Opus 87 Piano Quartet, Dvořák wrote that the “melodies came easily and just surged upon me”.
Also written in record time, Janáček initially intended his Concertino to be a full scale piano concerto, but instead retained its scoring for small chamber forces. This particularly expressive piece became an instant success upon its premiere in 1925.
Miroslav Pudlák’s effervescent Sextet, meanwhile, updates our vision of Czech music. Full of unbridled optimism and bubbling rhythmic devices, it seems to represent the new post-Soviet era and the freedom to explore fresh ground.
Although an imposter in some ways, Mozart too lays great claims to having Bohemian dreams: “It is not easy to convey an adequate conception of the enthusiasm of the Bohemians for Mozart’s music”, wrote Mozart’s librettist for Don Giovanni. Mozart composed his A major Flute Quartet during his time of great success in Prague, where his music was “perfectly appreciated by the Bohemians from the very first evening”.
Wolfgang MOZART (1756-1791): Flute Quartet in A major K298 (1786-7)
Miroslav PUDLÁK (b 1961): Sextet for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano (1996)
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928): Concertino for piano, two violins, viola, clarinet, horn and bassoon (1925)
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904): Piano Quartet in E flat Op.87 (B162) (1890)
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