Janacek: Piano Works / Olena Kushpler

Album cover art for upc 4260085530847
Label: AVI
Catalog: AVI 8553084
Format: CD

Süssmann, Gunilla; Tetzlaff, Tanja

Olena Kushpler writes: “Ever since my youth I have been fascinated by the music of Leoš Janácek: initially by his vocal works, particularly Jenufa, an opera with an unadulterated ‘peasant’ tone of such radical authenticity that it transforms itself into avant-garde music. I only discovered Janácek’s piano repertoire at a later date, and immediately grasped his basic aesthetic principle: he wanted to write a music of truth. Virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake had no place in his approach. I understood that the Bohemian master staked out a clear position in the great musical debate of the 1800s. It raged, on the one hand, between formal aesthetics, which viewed music as “sonically moving forms” (in the words of Vienna critic doyen Eduard Hanslick), and, on the other hand, the musical content aesthetics of Berlioz, Schumann, Wagner, and Bruckner, who devoted their efforts to transforming poetry and even philosophy into music. In Janácek, I also feel that he strives to imbue each phrase with profound expression, thereby creating music that reflects his feelings, hopes, and disappointments. Janácek’s music draws its energy from contrasts, which can be violent at times: each piece contains moments of brilliant luminosity as well as dramatic conflict. I view his piano cycle On An Overgrown Path as a clearly autobiographical work that reflects the experiences and moods he encountered in real life. The death of his daughter Olga led to profound despair, and the titles of individual pieces reflect how a father’s thoughts revolved around the memories of his lost child. Our Evenings, A Blown-Away Leaf, and Words Fail are all individual pieces that foreshadow the tragedy to come. The cycle culminates in The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away!, and we can note that folk belief viewed the barn owl as an ominous messenger of death.”

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