Composer: Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)
Performance date: 25/06/2022
Venue: Bantry House
Composition Year: 1913
Recording Engineer: Eduardo Prado, Ergodos
Instrumentation: vc, pf
Ella van Poucke -
Nathalia Milstein - [piano]
Leoš Janáček [1854-1928]
The story of Tsar Berendey, his son the Tsarevich Ivan, the intrigues of Kastchey the Immortal and the wisdom of Princess Maria, Kastchey’s daughter. So runs the title of Zhukovsky’s fairy-tale poem on which Janáček based his first completed chamber work. Ivan has been sacrificed to Kastchey, King of the Underworld, by his father and sets out bravely to meet his Nemesis. On his way he sees thirty silver ducklings swimming on a lake, on the bank lie thirty magic dresses. Ivan takes one of them. The ducklings return to the bank and twenty-nine of them are duly transformed into beautiful maidens, while the thirtieth seeks her dress in vain. Taking pity on her he returns the dress and she is of course transformed into the Princess Maria, with whom he immediately falls in love. They undergo many trials before all ends happily.
Janáček’s music describes the lovers and their falling in love. The music immediately creates a fairy-tale atmosphere with the bold Tsarevich suggested by the fanfare pizzicatos. A sweeter melody then luxuriates on the cello and the subsequent thematic dialogue could be suggesting a future union. The second movement begins with a pizzicato motto on the cello, this lively motto converses with a gentle lyrical variation that opens out into a richly romantic dialogue full of dreams. A pause brings back the motto before the dreams fade. The last movement is driven forward by its dynamic and heroic motif, before the music dissolves and the magic ends.
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