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Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1859-1951)

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Foerster, Janacek & Haas: Music for Wind Instruments

Foerster, Janacek & Haas: Music for Wind Instruments


Foerster, J:

Quintet in D major, Op. 95

Haas, P:

Wind Quintet, Op. 10

Janacek:

Mládí (Youth), for wind sextet


Belfiato Quartet

Recorded in the Church of Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Prague - Vinohrady, 10 - 14 Februrary, 2017.

The Belfiato Quintet are yet another exciting Czech chamber ensemble active in the international arena. The members of the young wind quintet perform with renowned orchestras (the Czech Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, etc.), and both as individuals and collectively have garnered accolades at competitions (Kateřina Javůrková’s victory at the ARD Munich, first prize for the Belfiato Quintet at the competition in Semmering, Austria, etc.). The debut studio album, which they have recorded 12 years after the ensemble’s foundation, exclusively features Czech music dating from the first half of the 20th century. J. B. Foerster composed the Wind Quintet (his most frequently performed instrumental piece) in 1909 to commission for a virtuoso ensemble formed by the members of the Wiener Philharmoniker. The work by Janáček’s pupil Pavel Haas, written two decades later, bears traces of inspiration by folk music, Janáček, as well as Stravinsky. Leoš Janáček had created his wind sextet Youth just five years previously. Owing to the music teeming with joie de vivre, prevailing over languor and melancholia, one is hard pressed to believe that the artist was 70 years of age when he composed it. Youth – how apt for the Belfiato Quintet, an ensemble sparkling with energy and inspiration!

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Czech Opera Rarities

Czech Opera Rarities

Baritone arias from lesser-known Czech operas


Bendl:

Ó ještě čekat...V líbezném klínu (from Lejla)

Dvorak:

Přichází v šraňky...Hory, kde les vroubí zelený (from Vanda)

Fibich:

Jsem-li hříčka v moci pekla (from Hedy)

Foerster, J:

O lásko, zdroji žití (from Jessika)

Myslivecek:

Siam passegieri erranti (from Abramo e Isaco)

Nápravník:

Kdo věřil by (from Dubrovskij)

Novák, V:

Je-li nutno, pane vévodo...Svatý Václave (from Karlštejn)

Ostrčil:

Šum háje, jara vonný dech (from The Death of Vlasta)

Pauer, J:

A co je nového...Láska k životu (from Zuzana Vojířová)

Rozkošný:

Anděli jasný, z krajů tajemných (from The Rapids of Saint John)

Šebor:

V slunci lásky jsem se zhlížel...Zprávu ti přináším (from The Templars in Moravia)

Skuherský:

Aj hle, k tmavému nábřeží (from Lora)

Smetana:

Tvůj obraz, dívko (from Branibori v Cecháach)

Zvonař:

A mlčel k tomu bohů hněv (from Záboj)


Ivan Kusjner (baritone)

Ivan Kusnjer has rightly been awarded the title of “King of Czech Singers” by the music critics. The fruits of his single-minded work are worthy of admiration: successes at international voice competitions, guest appearances on opera stages worldwide (Berliner Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro la Fenice, La Scala, Teatro Real, Théâtre Châtelet, Opéra-Bastille, etc.) and in prestigious concert halls (Albert Hall, Barbican, Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall), collaboration with renowned conductors (Mackerras, Albrecht, Harnoncourt, Gardiner, Pešek, Kout, Bělohlávek, etc.), the remarkable range of operatic roles he has portrayed (primarily for the National Theatre in Prague), songs and cantatas he has performed, as well as numerous accolades he has received (the 2001 Gustav Mahler European Prize, three Thalia Awards)...

A special chapter is Ivan Kusnjer’s keen interest in lesser-known Czech operas. Works linked with the time of their origin only rarely pass the test of time. Yet the carefully prepared selection on this album indicates just how much interesting music remains in the archives, and the recording is hence a must for all opera lovers.

The CD comprises previously unreleased arias, as masterfully performed by Ivan Kusnjer.

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Famous Czech Miniatures

Famous Czech Miniatures


Blodek:

Moonrise from the opera In the Well

Dvorak:

Humoresque in G flat major, Op. 101 No. 7

Waltz in A major (No. 1 from Waltzes, Op. 54)

Fibich:

Poème

Foerster, J:

Polka from the Opera Deborah, Op. 41

Janacek:

Pilky (No. 6 from Lachian Dances)

Kovarovic:

Miners' Polka

Nedbal:

The Tale of Simple Johnny: Valse triste

Novák, V:

Devil's Polka, Op. 55, No. 21

Smetana:

Nasim devám, polka for orchestra in D major

March of the Prague Student Legion

Suk:

Love Song, Op. 7 No. 1


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Foerster: The Complete Piano Trios

Foerster: The Complete Piano Trios


Foerster, J:

Piano trio in F minor, Op. 8

Piano trio in B flat major, Op. 38

Piano trio in A minor, Op. 105


Janacek Trio

Recorded for Czech Radio at the Martínek Studio, Prague, in October 2009, April and November 2010 The works of Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1859–1951) have deservedly experienced a renaissance in recent years. Following the acclaimed albums of his two violin concertos (SU39612), cello concerto (SU39892) and complete string quartets (SU40502), Supraphon has now released the first-ever digital recording featuring the complete Foerster piano trios.

And as in the case of the string quartets, the three piano trios too represent various creative phases, with the first and third being divided by almost four decades. Foerster dedicated his first trio to Edvard Grieg. The Norwegian composer lauded “the earnest, emotionally profound talent, tending towards high ideals”. The final trio was written in Prague, where Foerster had returned after living and working in Hamburg and Vienna for twenty-five years. The piece reflects the tumultuous postwar musical development and can be designated as one of Foerster’s most progressive compositions.

The young and gifted Janáček Trio interprets Foerster’s works with an understanding of the composer’s inner world and complete engagement.

“The Janacek Trio offer committed, well-judged performances” Gramophone Magazine, June 2012

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Foerster: The Complete String Quartets

Foerster: The Complete String Quartets


Foerster, J:

String Quartet No. 1 in E major, Op. 15

String Quartet No. 2 in D major, Op. 39

String Quartet No. 3 in C major, Op. 61

String Quartet No. 4 in F major, Op. 182

String Quartet No. 5 in G major “The Vestec”, sine op.

The Prayer for String Quartet, sine op.

String Quintet for two violins, viola, cello and double bass, Op. 3


Stamic Quartet

Following the acclaimed recordings of the two violin concertos (SU39612) and the cello concerto (SU39892), Supraphon returns to the work of Josef Bohuslav Foerster, a composer somewhat neglected until recently. This double CD presents for the first time his complete string quartet oeuvre. The first quartet (1888) is dedicated to Tchaikovsky, who recognised in Foerster a talented music creator and in a letter encouraged him to persevere with composing.

The form of string quartet would subsequently accompany Foerster until the very end. The fifth quartet, “The Vestec” (1959), is Foerster’s final work. After a long and arduous creative journey and seeking, he returns in it to his Smetana and Dvorák roots, already evident in the first quartet. This recording is supplemented by three minor compositions (including Erinnerung for string quartet and harp) and the idiomatic two-movement string quintet with double bass. Stamic Quartet, one of the foremost ensembles representing the renowned Czech quartet school worldwide, interprets Foerster with technical mastery and an understanding of the deeper layers of his work.

“Foerster’s little-known chamber oeuvre comes as a revelation, especially in performances as committed as these. The Bohemian melodic inspiration is unmistakable, as is the autumnal wistfulness of the slow music...there’s no let-up in creative inspiration or the appealingly direct late romantic idiom.” Financial Times, 11th September 2010 *****

“the music is influenced by Dvorak and Smetana, but it has a rich, flowing melodic lyricism which is all Foerster's own contribution. When played so expertly and with such sympathetic warmth, Foerster is revealed as a composer to return to and to give the listener much pleasure.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Foerster: Violin Concertos

Foerster: Violin Concertos


Foerster, J:

Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra in C minor, Op. 88

Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 104


The Times called it a “superbly played concert:” Ivan Ženatý and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jirí Belohlavek performed Foerster’s first violin concerto at London’s Barbican Hall in December, 2007. The concerto was written at the urging of Czech violin virtuoso Jan Kubelík, the dedicatee of the work, and the soloist who premiered it in Chicago in 1910. The second concerto, recorded in the studio, is a somewhat neglected part of the solo repertoire, not being a work for the presentation of superficial violin virtuosity. Ženatý, however, succeeds in delving beneath the piece’s surface and uncovering its introverted beauty for the audience. Thus these pieces appear together for the first time ever on this album, produced in cooperation with BBC Radio 3.

The combination of Foerster’s music with a soloist and conductor of this calibre could be called a truly fortunate constellation. Belohlávek is a conductor of worldwide reknown whose years of musical activity have earned him the position of a specialist in the Czech symphonic and operatic repertoire. Under his guidance, the London orchestra rings with the tones, colors and ardor traditionally associated with Czech ensembles, while Ženatý’s playing is characterized as always by passion and virtuosity in the service of the composition.

The unique first recording of Foerster’s complete violin concertos in a spectacular performance by Ivan Ženatý and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jirí Belohlávek.

“Full marks to Ivan Ženatý and Jirí Belohlávek for bringing these fascinating works to public attention.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2008 ****

“If [Foerster's] melodies are not intrinsically memorable, these finely wrought concertos get ideally idiomatic, rhapsodic performances from Zenaty and the BBCSO under Belohlavek.” Sunday Times, 17th August 2008 ***

“[The Violin Concertos] are intensely lyrical works, mostly conventional in form but gorgeously expansive in the best of their melodic writing. The performances seem beautifully judged, and the soloist Ivan Zenaty has the perfect pure-toned expressiveness the music needs.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5th September 2008 ***

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Martinu, Foerster & Novak - Cello Concertos

Martinu, Foerster & Novak - Cello Concertos


Foerster, J:

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 143

World Première Recording

Martinu:

Cello Concerto No. 1, H.196

Novák, J:

Capriccio for Cello and Small Orchestra


Jirí Bárta, who for a number of years has been considered one of the finest cellists both at home and abroad, has certainly not chosen the three concertos on this CD at random. Bohuslav Martinu’s first concerto, in the definitive 1955 version, is among the works Bárta most cherishes and performs most frequently. At the same time, this opus bridges the imaginary space between the other compositions. Its first version originated in 1930, at the time when J. B. Foerster was completing his one and only cello concerto. This work of a composer with a Czech soul and European experience has its world premiere on this recording.

From an entirely different world is Jan Novák’s syncopated Capriccio, a piece with distinct jazz elements in which the solo instrument is accompanied by a big band. Novák, sharing with his teacher Martinu the fate of an émigré who would never again see his homeland, completed Capriccio a short time after Martinu, in the twilight of his life, gave his first concerto its definitive form. Capriccio too is released here for the first time on CD and features Jirí Bárta accompanied by the best Czech chamber orchestra under its chief conductor, the rising star Jakub Hruša.

“…Jirí Bárta… plays with a warm, unselfconscious expressiveness that connects with all three works, and the Prague Philharmonia is with him every step of the way.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2009

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2009

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