The second of two concerts centered on the musically rich period between the World Wars features music that forges new paths in all directions by Leoš Janáček, Germaine Tailleferre, and Ernest Bloch.
Leoš Janáček: Pohádka (Fairy Tale)
Germaine Tailleferre: String Quartet
Ernest Bloch: Piano Quintet No. 1, B.43
Matthew Zerweck & Laura Scalzo, violins; Emily Freudigman, viola; Ken Freudigman, cello; Viktor Valkov, piano
About the Music:
JANÁČEK: PODHÁDKA (“FAIRY TALE”)
In 1910, both Igor Stravinsky and Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) made musical settings of Russian folk tales. Stravinsky’s famous Firebird ballet for full orchestra was quite literal and became world famous. Janáček’s Fairy Tale, a more general setting for cello and piano, went relatively unnoticed. This statement is not to take away from the mastery and charm of Janáček’s music, but rather to contrast two opposing approaches to similar material. The full title of Janáček’s work was originally “The Tale of Czar Berendey.” When the composer revised the work in 1923, he shortened the title simply to Fairy Tale.
Briefly, the story goes that Czar Berendey is duped into ransoming the soul of his son, Ivan, to Kashchey, Ruler of the Underworld. When Ivan is old enough, his father tells him of his terrible fate, whereupon Ivan sets out, determined to free himself of the curse. Early in his odyssey, he sees a duckling turned into a beautiful maiden, and they instantly fall in love. She turns out to be Marya, the good daughter of Kashchey. In later episodes, Ivan (with Marya’s help) successfully accomplishes two tasks set for him by Kashchey, but Marya is changed into a flower. Ultimately, the couple are rejoined in a happy ending.