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LISZTIAN VISION

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In the first of an occasional series
on East European music and opera,
RODERIC DUNNETT reviews the
music and recordings of Zdenek Fibich

 

The year 2000 had an added resonance for musicians in the Czech Republic. The composer Zdenek Fibich -- symphonist, opera composer, melodramatist, and composer of one of the most extended keyboard cycles written since Chopin -- would have been l50. He was born in Vseborice in December l850, the son of a Bohemian forester whose ancestors might not have been out of place in Weber's Der Freischutz. He died in Prague, aged only 49, in October l900.

Fibich: Sárka (c) 1995 Supraphon Records

In the l890s, if not before, Fibich had begun to find his own authentic voice. Just a few bars of the opening of his opera Sárka (l896-7, premiere 28 Dec l897) [listen -- CD 1 track 1, 0:00 -- 1:00] give a clue to where he was headed. The cosmopolitan underlay -- Schumann, Chopin, and in particular Wagner laced with Smetana, was leavening to produce a depth and intensity of its own. Sárka takes up from where Smetana's great national opera, Libuse, leaves off : Czech foundation legend is laced with Tristanesque love-tryst to generate a bewitching potion of its own. From the opening scene, delivered by the magnificent Czech mezzo-soprano Eva Randová on the particularly compelling Supraphon double disc recording with Eva Depoltová under Jan Stych, SU0036-2 612, we are gathered into the mists of a heroic age, as surely as we are in Wagner's  Lohengrin or Siegfried. In its way, Sárka was as important an achievement as Dvorák's Rusalka a couple of years later, and its love music is as compelling as that in either Rusalka or Jacobin.

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Copyright © 16 January 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - SUPRAPHON SU 0036-2 612 (SÁRKA)

VISIT THE SUPRAPHON WEBSITE

CD INFORMATION - SUPRAPHON SU 1920-2 901 (POÈME)

PURCHASE SU 1920-2 901 (POÈME) FROM CROTCHET

CD INFORMATION - SUPRAPHON SU 1920-2 901 (MESSINA)

 

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