The Diary of one who vanished

Composer: Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)
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Composer: Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)

Performance date: 08/07/2016

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1916

Duration: 00:36:54

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Trio

Instrumentation Other: T-solo, mezzo, pf, voice trio

Artists: Voice Trio Victoria Couper, Clemmie Franks, Emily Burn - [vocal ensemble]
Julius Drake - [piano]
Anna Reinhold - [mezzo-soprano]
Mark Padmore - [tenor]

that black gypsy girl in my Diary – that was especially you. That’s why there’s
such emotional heat in these works. So much heat that if it caught both of us,
there’d be just ashes left of us.
[Janácek to
Kamila Stösslová]

Kamila Stösslová was Janácek’s muse during
the extraordinary Indian Summer of his life when he composed a seemingly
unstoppable flow of masterpieces – four major operas, the Glagolitic Mass,
Sinfonietta, both string quartets and several other instrumental works. He was
63 when he first saw Kamila, while on holiday in the Moravian spa of
Luhacovice. She was a beautiful 25-year-old happily married woman with two
children, who must have been very self-possessed to resist Janácek’s impetuous
advances all those years without driving him away. He wrote her over seven
hundred letters, passionate outpourings that made her the romantic and erotic
focus of his creative life. Janácek’s own never very successful marriage had
collapsed under the strain of his very public affair with a famous singer, an
affair that was still going on when he first met Kamila.

The poems on which the cycle is based had
appeared in a provincial Czech newspaper, ostensibly the work of a farmer’s son
recounting his seduction by a gypsy girl and his farewell to his parents and
home. Short and pithy the poems are written in a dialect close to that of
Janácek’s birthplace, but no one was fooled by the assertion that the poems
came from the pen of an uneducated peasant farmer. The name of their author was
not discovered until 1997, when a local historian stumbled upon a letter
written by an obscure Moravian poet, Ozef Kalda, who unfortunately died before
the work’s premiere. Janácek had the poems with him when he first met Kamila.

turns the traditional Schubertian song-cycle on its
head. It is a dramatic cantata for tenor, mezzo-soprano and a small female
chorus that emerges from thin air at the crux of the action. It wickedly
subverts both the stock nineteenth century idea of the fallen woman and the
classic Schubertian model of the love-sick young man moaning about his lost
love. Here the first cousin to Schubert’s miller is rescued from his apparently
inevitable destruction in the flames of unrequited love by the sexy young gypsy
girl who takes matters into her own sure hands. But though it is a story of
love fulfilled, the music becomes saturated with sadness as the young
protagonist realises what he has to leave behind as a result of his love. It is
a love story, where the lovers successfully consummate their love, but one that
leaves us with a terrible sense of loneliness as the young man wrestles with
his farewell to his parents, his sister and his farm – a farewell made more
poignant because he dare not tell them face to face what he is doing, he just