Vítězslav Novák’s “Toman and the Wood Nymph“

'Toman and the Wood Nymph'

Music lovers asked to name the greatest Czech composers will likely answer - Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček, Suk, Martinů ,but the chances are, they may not think of Vítězslav Novák. A pupil of Dvořák's, he was one of the most distinguished composers of his time; a Post-Romantic and the first of the generation of Modernists profoundly inspired by Moravian folk music.

Vítězslav Novák | Photo: Jindřich Vaněk,  Czech Radio

Vítězslav Novák’s tone poem Toman and the Wood Nymph is deemed the most ambitious of Novák's symphonic works. As the composer himself put it, he strove to express an "uncontrollable torrent of wild passion", referring to the piece as an "orgy of sound" and the ballad as a "depiction of woman's demonic power over man".

“Toman and the Wood Nymph“ was recorded, on the Supraphon label, by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and pianist Jan Bartoš, conducted by Jakub Hrůša.


“The Concerto is crammed with hefty bravura solo writing that is dispatched on the recording by Jan Bartoš with suitable muscularity… but it’s the work that ends the disc, the symphonic poem Toman and the Wood Nymph, that justifies Hrůša’s enthusiasm… It’s an effective piece, full of striking, pictorial invention, and Hrůša and the Prague Radio orchestra project it with every bit of the vividness it needs.”
The Guardian, September 2020

“Bartoš’s playing is ardent and committed, with sterling support from the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hrůša and well-balanced sound… Hrůša’s performance with the Prague Radio orchestra stands out from all others for its technical aplomb, full-throttle passion, expressive sensitivity and superb modern sound. Anyone with any sort of interest in Central European music at the turn of the century ought to hear this disc for the extra perspectives it affords on a fascinating figure of the period…Very warmly recommended!”
Europadisc, September 2020

“We get fantastic playing from pianist Jan Bartoš, treating the music with the seriousness it deserves and throwing in a delectable bonus in the shape of At Dusk… It’s brilliantly performed, Hrůša letting rip when needed. I’d suggest waiting till the neighbours are out and turning the volume up: the closing bars are terrifying. A fascinating introduction to an unjustly neglected figure.”
The Arts Desk, October 2020