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.
“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.”