- Lady Godiva Overture, Op. 41
- Toman and the Wood Nymph, for orchestra, Op. 40
- De Profundis, symphonic poem for large orchestra & organ, Op. 67
Novák: Lady Godiva; De profundis; Toman and the Wood Nymphby Libor Pesek
In judging Czech composers -- or those from anywhere outside Europe's central mainstream -- history has tended to value the iconoclastic, nationalistic outsiders over those who simply aspired to match the Germanic standard on its own terms. This may be one reason why Leos Janácek's music is celebrated while that of his younger colleague Vítezslav Novák is virtually unknown. But the three striking works on this recording led by Libor Pesek prove that Novák deserves better. The spirits of Richard Strauss and Dvorák hover in the background of his music, and occasional echoes of French impressionism also may be detected. (Slavic music aficionados will find affinities with Josef Suk, Novák's lifelong friend.) The first two works included here date from 1907. The Lady Godiva Overture doesn't attempt to depict the heroine's famous act of horsemanship, but does give her a meltingly lovely clarinet theme accompanied by harp, in contrast to the brusque music for her husband. Toman and the Wood Nymph is an extended and quite passionate symphonic poem, making virtuosic demands that the BBC Philharmonic splendidly fulfills. A very different work ends the program -- Novák's De Profundis of 1941. With a prominent organ part that offers final redemption after the anguished tone of the main section, this noble and deeply felt music was privately identified by the composer as a lament for the Czech nation during the years of Nazi occupation. Now, more than a half-century after his death, the time for rediscovery of Novák's music is well past due, and this recording offers a superb introduction that will leave you anxious for more.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsLibor Pesek Primary Artist