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The End of the 20th Century in Czech Music

F1 0073    [8595017407321]
TT- 52:07    released 12/1996

1. Miroslav Pudlák: Sextet    10:27
2. Hanuš Bartoň: Tempestuous River, River of Oblivion    9:15
3. Peter Graham: Quintet    9:00
4. Martin Marek: 37 Views of Říp Mountain    11:06
5. Zbyněk Matějů: Capriccio    11:58

Ensemble Mondschein
Jaroslav Pelikán - flute (1-3,5)
Kamil Doležal - clarinet (1-3,5)
Zdeňka Pelikánová - violin (1,2,4,5)
Jiří Richter - viola
Kryštof Lecian - cello (1-3,5)
David Rejchrt - cello (4) guest appearance
Hanuš Bartoň - piano (1-3,5)
Miroslav Pudlák - conductor (1-3,5)

The composers associated with the Mondschein ensemble are united by a post-modern global vision of music and also by a lack of faith in the syncretic and unilaterally radical approach to contemporary music. Their aesthetics, incorporating something of the disintegrative atmosphere of the end of the century, also manifest an attempt to revive the aspect of significance in music. The composers (although differing greatly from one another) are joined in their efforts to innovate, purely musical means (instead of escaping to the superficial union of music with other forms of art, or to the physiological impact of sound), they take an interest in expanding the dimension of musical expression and meaning (as opposed to formal construction) with new virtuosity of performance in order to serve the needs of expression. The aim is to present art as a perfectly free voice, liberated from the habits of tradition and the dictates of fashion. Their common trademark is the endeavour to create a comprehensible musical gesture as if standing outside time, outside the chaos of the disintegrating musical languages of the end of the 20th century.

Miroslav Pudlák (1961) composer, musicologist - studied composition at the Music Academy with Jindřich Feld and musicology both in Prague and Paris. He attended various composition courses abroad (Kazimierz, Darmstadt, Amsterdam), also working in France and the USA. He currently works both as a composer and musicologist. During the years 1985-1990 he was musical director of contemporary music ensemble Agon. He was given a number of awards and grants: a grant from the French government, a prize for young composers in 1993 and a commission from the orchestra of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in London and the Fulbright Grant for Research (USA). His compositions were orginally based on certain post-modern trends from the 1970s which he transformed into a specific type of compositional constructivism. 
     Sextet (1996) "bears the subtitle (and orginal working title) On-da-tre which resembles the plural of the word ondatra (as in Italian or the Haná dialect); however, it also sounds like counting from one to three in some unknown Romance (or Romany?) dialect - on, dah, tree. (The counting would continue: quatre, quins, sex, sieben, ocho, nehvo, deset...ondeset, dadeset, tredeset etc. Sixteen would be sedesat , twenty would be dahcet , then treecets, quarsets, quinset and sextet etc.) The musical treatment of Sextet follows similar "principles" as the above concept. The music was written as the grammar of an unknown but familiar language, as a system of rules (and exceptions) using a syntax of empty concepts. The words of this language only find their meanings in chance associations. [...] The modern composer often attempts something similar to the endeavours of these playful creators of artificial languages who devise the rules of some unusable gibberish with earnest thoroughness". (M.P.)

Hanuš Bartoň (1960) composer, pianist - studied composition at the Prague Academy of Music with Ilja Hurník and piano with Emil Leichner. He continued these disciplines at the music faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts under Jiří Pauer and Jan Panenka and then as a post-graduate student he studied composition with Svatopluk Havelka. He is currently teaching at the Academy. He attended composition courses in Siena and in Poland. As a performer he regularly plays works by contemporary composers (in particular the premieres of works by Czech and foreign composers) and he is also an acclaimed performer of early music (e.g. with the CD recording of the piano works by J. L. Dusík). In the ensemble Ars cameralis, of which he is a member, he combines the interpretation of both mediaeval and contemporary music. His own compositions reflect traits of neo-Romanticism where he interlaces the musical material with his own experimental ideas.
     Tempestuous River, River of Oblivion (1996). "The title captures the different atmosphere in the two parts of the composition which both use related musical features. The first part is conceived as a sequence of gradating waves where each is stronger than the previous one. The conclusion remains open in order to prepare for the second part which is understood as a single, continuing diminuendo. The musical language of the work is based on what are chiefly consonant harmonies arranged in the tonal space in order that their colour quality is "rediscovered". The individual instruments are divided into groups creating rhythmical zones which are independent of each other." (H.B.)

Zbyněk Matějů (1958) composer - studied composition at the Prague Academy of Music under Jindřich Feld and at the Academy of Performing Arts with Jiří Pauer. He received a number of awards at composition competitions both at home and abroad. He focuses particular attention on stage productions, especially ballet music; he created the ballet Phobia with choreographer M. Benoni which had its premiere in Nyon, Switzerland and was subsequently also performed in Vienna and Moscow. As the winner of the Donaubalett competition he was commissioned to write a ballet for the Holland Dance Festival. Other commissions include work for the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Zbyněk Matějů´s artistic development has brought him towards a broadly synthetising style which integrates diverse features set into surprising contexts and situational contrasts. His experience with film and stage music also provided the inspiration for "dramatically" conceived concert music.
     Capriccio (1996). "A poly-style system of composition is contained in three movements (from elements of New Music to undertones of pop music) to which formal treatment applying the method of sudden cuts in the score, provides the unity of a type of film music. This is a whim of musical fantasy (Capriccio) where the mood of the work plays a greater role than the form, whilst the expressional focus is rooted in the first two movements which then shine once again in the third." (Z.M.)

Peter Graham (1952) composer, organist - born Jaroslav Šťastný-Pokorný, studied the organ at the Brno Academy of Music and composition at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts under Alois Piňos. After his studies hehad a number of employments (piano accompanyist, musical supervisor in the recording studio, workman, music teacher). Composition, however, has always been the most important discipline for him. His works were received with success in Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Italy, Romania, Holland and Sweden. He won second prize at the international competition festival "Musica iudaica" for his chamber cantata "Der Erste" where candidates were asked to write a composition based on a text by Franz Kafka (1993). Graham is also one of the most active personalities in Brno musical life (program director of the festival Exposition of New Music, cooperation with the magazine Ticho / Silence). Peter Graham`s creative approach is based more on intuition and his means of musical expression constantly change during the process of exploration. Thus each work represents an individual world of style.
     Quintet (1994). "Originally written for alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, viola and piano, this work was written in 1994 based on a ten-year-old sketch. At the request of Kamil Doležal I authorised a version in which the cello replaces the bass clarinet. This composition was not conditioned by any external circumstances - it came to me of its own accord because it wanted to be here." (P.G.)

Martin Marek (1956) composer - comes from a musical family. He studied the cello and composition at the Prague Conservatory under Miloš Sádlo and Ilja Hurník and as a student of Marek Kopelent at Prague´s Academy of Performing Arts. The New Music of the 1960s represents for Marek a technical base for his work on which he builds up his own aesthetics combining serial and tonal music.
     37 Views of Říp Mountain (1995). "This work is a kind of paraphrase of the famous series "36 Views of Fujisan" by Japanese artist Hokusai, but now in the context of the cult mountain in our mythology. The mountain offers a wide range of aesthetic experiences: from misty mornings and the steam issuing from the nearby factory in Štětí to the occasional views way into the distance. The whole work can perhaps be compared with 37 photographs using various formats, taken from several sides and distances and at different times of the year. Some of the photographs are brought together in a larger groups. The number 37 is inspired by modern Japanese photographic equipment which can expose 37 instead of the usual 36 shots thanks to a more advanced use of the length of film." (M.M.)

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