5. 11. 2024, 7 p.m.

Reduta Theatre (Mozart Hall)

Tenor: Nicky Spence

Piano: Lada Valešová

Navarra String Quartet

Co-performed by members of the Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno

The performance lasts for 70 minutes without pause.

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Pavel Haas: Three Pieces for Piano HW VII/7; The Chosen One HW IV/24; Cycle of songs on poems by Jiří Wolker for tenor, flute, violin, French horn and piano
Leoš Janáček: In the Mists, JW VIII/22
Pavel Haas: Fata Morgana, HW VI/5, piano quintet with tenor solo

 

The year ending in four also has a bitter aftertaste in Czech music. After all, almost all of our composers of Jewish origin perished in the Nazi extermination camps in 1944. One of them was Janáček’s most talented pupil Pavel Haas (1899–1944). His work will be the subject of a concert with the leading Janáček tenor Nicky Spence, who is currently one of the best interpreters of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, as we could see at last year’s Janáček Brno Festival.

The work of Pavel Haas is not very extensive because of the tragic fate of the author, but it is all the more impressive. The evening will feature two song compositions by the composer and three piano pieces. Pavel Haas had a unique position in the Janáček Master Class. He was the only pupil whom Janáček taught without forbidding his compositional influence. He often consulted his school compositions with him as he would have done them himself. That was a real exception and privilege. And the young student absorbed much of Janáček in the best sense of the word. Haas composed Fata Morgana, a piano quintet with tenor solo, shortly after his studies with Janáček in 1922. He was certainly influenced by the powerful experience of the premiere of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared in 1921, which is evident in the composition. The piece is set to the poems of Rabindranath Tagore, the same author on whose text Haas’ teacher wrote the male chorus The Wandering Madman in the same year. Fata Morgana is a fundamental work of Czech songwriting and one of the most interesting works by young authors of the then emerging generation. This unusually demanding composition was premiered in 1924 and certainly won great appreciation from Janáček himself. 

The song cycle The Chosen One for tenor, flute, violin, French horn and piano was written in 1927 to poems by Jiří Wolker. The composition shows how far Haas had travelled since his studies with Janáček. His compositions are very distinctive, although we can feel inspiration not only from Janáček, but also, for example, from Igor Stravinsky and the Paris Six. The Chosen One premiered in 1927. 

The three piano compositions are Haas’ work from his studies at the Brno Conservatory in 1919. They were created even before he started studying with Janáček at the Master School. Here, too, the unusual inventiveness of the gifted young composer is already evident.

Janáček completed the piano cycle In the Mists in April 1912. Not long before that, in 1910, he moved with his wife and housekeeper to a new house in the garden of the organ school and there, hidden from the world, with his confidence shattered and in a melancholic mood, he composed his last major work for solo piano.

Jiří Zahrádka