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Novákʼs music is intensely spiritual, and is truly modern in that it adds something completely new to what has existed before. At the same time it is not overtly radical; it does not seek to destroy the existing order and replace it with something new.
Novák retains strong links with tonality, but his tonality, with its frequent use of triads, sounds uniquely his.
The 24 Preludes and Fugues were written for the pianist William Howard over a 17-year period, and consequently reflect the evolution of Novákʼs musical language during this time. Many of them were premiered at the Dartington International Summer School.
This 75-minute work is divided into four ʻbooksʼ, the first two based on the Old Testament and the second two on the New Testament. Whereas the pieces in the first two books are distinct and individual, the cycle strives increasingly towards a unity of form as it develops, while at the same time revealing Novákʼs growing interest in unison and a consonance in his compositional language.
“I have no doubt that these 24 Preludes and Fugues are one of the finest piano works of our time...” David Matthews
Pavel Zemek Novák was born in Brno in 1957, and is one of the most individual and distinctive Czech composers of his generation. His large body of symphonic, choral, chamber and instrumental works reflects both his devout religious faith and his interest in Morovian folk traditions. William Howard, performing in this world premiere recording, is established as one of Britainʼs leading pianists, enjoying a career that has taken him to over 40 different countries, and has seen him perform on over 30 CDs. He has a very strong interest in Czech piano music, recognised by a medal awarded by the Czech Minister of Culture in 1986.
Pavel Zemek Novák: Book One (Old Testament)
Prelude One. The Creation of Heaven and Earth
Fugue One, The Creation of Man
Prelude Two. The Age of the Patriarchs
Fugue Two. Noah
Prelude Three. The Flood
Fugue Three. Noah's Ark
Prelude Four. The Departure of Abraham
Fugue Four. Abraham and Isaac
Prelude Five. The Burning Bush
Fugue Five. Moses
Prelude Six. Saul and David
Fugue Six. King David
Pavel Zemek Novák: Book Two (Old Testament)
Prelude Seven. Job
Fugue Seven. The Book of Proverbs
Prelude Eight. The Little Book of Psalms
Fugue Eight. The Little Book of Psalms
Prelude Nine. Ecclesiasticus
Fugue Nine. The Song of Songs
Prelude Ten. Elijah
Fugue Ten. Elisha
Prelude Eleven. The Lamentations of Jeremiah
Fugue Eleven. Jeremiah
Prelude Twelve. Isaiah
Fugue Twelve. Isaiah
Pavel Zemek Novák: Book Three (New Testament) - 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us'
Prelude Eighteen. Aria, The Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross
Pavel Zemek Novák: Book Four (New Testament) - Landscapes of the Lamb
Fugue Twenty One
Postlude Twenty One
Fugue Twenty Two
Postlude Twenty Two
Fugue Twenty Three
Postlude Twenty Three
Parellel Fugue and Postlude Twenty Four
“it's a work of tremendous virtuosity and drastic extremes of dynamic and register that expands to absorb a wealth of styles...Superb performance and stunning sound: a real discovery.”