Encore: Inventions and fairy tales: Bach, Novak and Janacek
In this edition of Encore we look at a rarely used musical form, shared by Bach and the 20th century Czech composer, Jan Novak. We also feature two highly promising young Czech musicians, cellist Tomas Jamnik and pianist Ivo Kahanek.
Bach, Novak and the 'invention'.
We start today with an 'invention' - Johann Sebastian Bach style. This is a form almost unique to Bach, and yet just about every musician studies them. The 'invention' is, in fact, nothing more than a short piece in two-part counterpoint - and helps to develop keyboard technique and of course musicianship.
One of very few composers who did take up the form was Jan Novak (1921-1984), whom we featured an earlier show. He wrote a set of inventions in the very dissonant so-called serial, or twelve-tone, style, calling his compositions 'Inventions in the Serial Style Technique for Harpsichord and Other Winged Instruments.' 'Winged instruments' here refers to keyboard instruments, which in some European languages are called 'wings' because of the shape of their lids; hence the German word 'fluegel' and the Czech 'kridlo' for the grand piano.
The young Czech harpsichordist, Monika Knoblochova, has a new CD on the Cube Bohemia label in which she interweaves inventions by Jan Novak with inventions by J. S. Bach. It makes for a fascinating set of recordings.
A 'fairy-tale' new recordings by two promising young Czech musicians
We move on to some other young Czech performers - cellist Tomas Jamnik and pianist Ivo Kahanek. They recently issued a CD together, and Kahanek has come out with a solo CD as well. Look out in particular for Janacek's three Fairy Tales for cello and piano, inspired by Russian fairy tales. Janacek was a great lover of Russian culture, and tended to look eastward for inspiration rather than westward.
Kahanek's solo CD features an excellent performance of Gideon Klein's sonata for piano. Klein was one of several highly gifted composers sent by the Nazis to concentration camps. He composed this piece, while interned in the Terezin Ghetto in 1943 when he was just 23 years old. He dedicated it to his sister Eliska, who unlike him, survived the camps. She was a wonderful woman, who died only a few years ago, and had a distinguished career as a much-loved piano teacher, and worked very hard to get her brother's works known.
CDs reviewed in this programme are provided by Siroky Dvur