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Songs of Russian Romantics on September 10th

The next concert of the Lieder Company Prague will focus on the double anniversary of the late romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), which this year is being commemorated by the entire musical world. In addition to the song works of this great composer, the songs and cycles of other Russian composers will be performed: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908).

The works of these important Romantics will be performed by the leading Czech mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová and the sought-after baritone Roman Janál, soloists of the National Theatres in Brno and Prague. The piano parts will be played by pianist and composer Jan Dušek.

Hrochova EN
Janal EN
Dusek EN

The art songs of none of these composers is heard on Czech stages very often, even though they all represent an essential part of their musical legacy. Although all of them compiled their songs into cycles, usually published under one opus number, in the case of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov these are more like collections. The concert will therefore feature a representative selection of the most beautiful and impressive of these, a kind of cross-section of their lifetime of song works. We have selected songs from Tchaikovsky’s Opuses 6, 25 and 38. From Rachmaninov’s oeuvre we will hear selected songs from his early opuses 8 and 14, as well as from his climactic opuses 26 and 34. In particular, the two songs Мы отдохнём to a poem by A. P. Chekhov and Христос воскрес with text by D. S. Merezhkovsky from Opus 26 are among the most impressive Rachmaninov produced in this genre.

rachmaninov edited
Sergei Rachmaninoff

Rimsky-Korsakov’s songs show much stronger signs of cyclical composition, and the two climactic cycles of the Four Romances, Op. 39, and the Four Romances, Op. 40, have been chosen for this concert. Both cycles were composed in 1897 in close proximity to his most famous operas and were immediately published in Leipzig. Despite their breathtaking artistic quality, they have remained overshadowed by his more famous orchestral and operatic works. While the first mentioned cycle appears to be more traditional, with all four songs composed to poems by A. K. Tolstoy, the second cycle already reveals the composer’s handwriting to the full, including unusual modulations and modal techniques. The settings of the poems by M. J. Lermontov and A. N. Maykov sound with full power and impact, also thanks to the almost orchestrally coloured piano parts.

1682px Portrat des Komponisten Pjotr I. Tschaikowski 1840 1893 edited
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Rimsky Korsakov edited
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

All songs will be sung in original Russian and accompanied by subtitles with Czech translations, as is customary at our concerts. Listeners can also purchase a comprehensive printed programme, which includes biographies of the authors, information on the works performed, biographies of the performers, and above all, complete song lyrics with Czech translations.

We are aware that a concert with a similar dramaturgy may seem controversial nowadays. However, we are of the opinion that music and any art must not become a hostage of politics. After all, our experience with the totalitarian government and its relationship to art is a sufficient memento. Therefore, we should not allow generalisation and ban everything that is Russian without thinking and a priori. We would be depriving ourselves of real musical treasures that have nothing to do with current events, which we neither approve of nor support in principle.

The concert will take place in the Great Hall of the New Town Hall on Sunday 10th September at 7.30 pm. Tickets are available in advance on our website and or one hour before the concert at the venue.