About the concert
Leoš Janáček´s Nursery Rhymes is one of the most strikingly original compositions inspired by Czech and Moravian folklore. In the work´s nineteen miniature numbers following one another in rapid succession, the composer set as many candid children´s rhymes. The ingenuous humour of the words here is underpinned by witty instrumentation, and by melodies which are often ironically twisted in their imitation of the human speech.
Likewise inspired by the rural context is the Legend of the Smoke from Potato Fires. Apart from telling the story of the Mother of God who has left her place on the altar to go and seek out her lost son, it also conjures up a humorous, at times even sarcastic depiction of a small Czech village. It is rounded off by a magnificent apotheosis of life and nature. Bohuslav Martinů enhanced the cantata´s rustic atmosphere by bringing in more than a few elements drawn from folk music, including among others a straightforward melodic pattern, as well as a peculiar instrumentation assigning prominence to recorder and accordion.
The Prophecy of Isaiah is the last large-scale composition of Bohuslav Martinů. He only managed to complete the first two parts, leaving the third unfinished, in the form of sketches. That notwithstanding, the cantata has duly entered into the concert repertoire, and as it is makes an impression of a complete self-enclosed whole. Martinů accompanies the prophet´s words, The Lord will render the land empty and barren, with dark sounds of trumpet, viola, kettledrums and piano. He embodies them in a profound music which, compared with his previous output, is surprisingly different and new.
Janáček´s The Lord´s Prayer was originally composed as musical accompaniment to a series of tableaux vivants. However, the result of the composer´s endeavour eventually proved so impactful as to earn it a thoroughly autonomous standing. An extensively conceived setting of the prayer with organ and harp accompaniment is rendered in alternation by mixed choir and solo tenor. In this music, Janáček sets intimate and introspective passages in stark contrast with ones embued with an air of majesty and drama. His setting of the text is eloquent enough to make any tableaux vivants illustration patently superfluous.