With the last concert of this year, the Lieder Company Prague decided to pay tribute to the Romantic authors. In the case of three of them, we will additionally commemorate their anniversaries this year – the songs of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Edvard Hagerup Grieg (1843-1907) and Max Reger (1873-1916) will be complemented by other songs by the lesser-performed late Romantic composers Adolf Busch (1891-1952) and Frank Bridge (1879-1941).
The performers will include mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová, soloist of the National Theatre in Brno, baritone Robin Červinek, last year’s absolute winner of the Antonín Dvořák International Vocal Competition in Karlovy Vary, and JAMU teachers violist Jan Řezníček and pianist Bohumír Stehlík.
The concert will take place on Sunday 10 December at 7.30 pm at the attractive Club Salsita in Smíchov.
From Brahms’ enormous song legacy we have chosen two cycles that stand out somewhat. The first is the Two Songs for alto, viola and piano, Op. 91, from 1884. The second is an early cycle, Duets for alto, baritone and piano, Op. 28, which is the only duet cycle he dedicated to a female and a male voice (the others are always for two female voices). He composed this one in 1864. Both cycles are dedicated to the violist Amalia Weiss, wife of the violinist Joseph Joachim, with both of whom Brahms had a strong friendship.
Max Reger’s music is rarely heard on concert stages. His songs, although numbering over 250 songs, are completely marginal. We have chosen his song cycle Five Songs, Op. 98 from 1906, in which we recognise the influences of Reger’s favourites – Brahms, Schumann and Strauss – but also sense a move towards a distinctive musical expression.
The work of the German violinist and composer Adolf Busch has almost fallen into oblivion. Ever since his studies at the Cologne Conservatory he was friends with and performed with Max Reger, who became his natural compositional model. We have selected his impressive Three Songs for voice, viola and piano Op. 3a. Of interest may be the setting of the identical Heine poem Aus den Himmelsaugen, which we also find in Reger’s cycle.
The personality of Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Hagerup Grieg needs no introduction. Although his songwriting is an essential part of his creative legacy, it is not often mentioned. The concert will feature two early song cycles, Six Songs, Op. 4 and Melodies of the Heart, Op. 5, which he composed in 1863-4, shortly after he met his future wife Nina Hagerup, a great singer, to whom he also dedicated them both. As he later admitted, “She was the only real interpreter of my songs for me.” In these cycles he resorts to the poems of the German Romantics as well as to the poetry of Hans Christian Andersen, which is performed in the original Danish.
The last featured composer is the British composer and conductor Frank Bridge, almost unknown to the Czech audience. He has been overshadowed by his pupil Benjamin Britten, who to some extent contributed to the fact that Bridge’s work has not been completely forgotten. We have selected Three Songs for voice, viola and piano, set to poems by the Romantics Matthew Arnold, Heinrich Heine and Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1906-7, the same year as the Reger cycle.
As at all Lieder Company Prague concerts, the songs will be presented in their original languages and accompanied by subtitles with Czech translations of the lyrics. Tickets are available in advance at GoOut.net or one hour before the concert at the venue.