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Bedřich Smetana (1824 - 1884): "From
the Homeland". Two Duets for Violin and Piano 12:08
The history of Czech music includes several names of renowned violinists born in Bohemia - František Benda, concertmaster of the imperial court and "the best contemporary violinist competing with the Italians", Jan Václav Stamic, Josef Slavík, Ferdinand Laub, as well as outstanding pedagogues, such as Antonín Benewitz and Otakar Ševčík. Their pupils Ferdinand Lachner, Jiří Herold, Karel Hofman, Josef Suk and František Ondříček helped to found the Czech school of violin as a compact phenomenon, in which the proverbial Czech musical talent developed in remarkable continuity from the early 19th century to the mid-20th century.
The first three numbers of the programme originated almost simultaneously: Dvořák's Mazurka in 1879, Smetana's duet From the Homeland and Dvořák's Sonata in F Major in 1880. In these works the Czech chamber music finally resounded in a fully developed form, when the concert style cristallized simultaneously (1879) in Dvořák's Concerto in A-Minor.
Bedřich Smetana (1824 - 1884) composed his two duets From the Homeland in A Major and G Minor in Jabkenice. After completing My Country, he expressed his patriotic feelings in The Czech Dances, The Evening Songs, the songs The Dowry and The Prayer for male choir, and in these two duets for violin and piano. They reflect his love of the inviting Czech countryside and the Czech nation in deep, moving musical motifs and perfect form.
Antonín Dvořák (1841 - 1904) composed the Sonata in F Major (the only composition of this form in his work) as a chamber counterpart to his Concerto in A Minor. He took the Concerto's temperamental swing and used it in the Sonata, intensifying its lyricism, expanding its charming melodies. The Mazurka, an echo of The Slavonic Dances, was composed as a concert composition accompanied by a small orchestra. On the concert stage it soon acquired a chamber form. It was first performed at the House of Umělecká Beseda by the violinist Ferdinand Lachner and the pianist Zdeněk Fibich. The same evening Smetana's string quartet From my life was first performed.
Bohuslav Martinů was master of violin stylization. In his orchestral, chamber and concerto compositions the violin finds multiple expression with creative, yet totally natural fantasy. Only an expert can fully appreciate the art of simplicity, natural sincerity of the Sonatina for Violin and Piano from 1937. The date of the origin of this composition is important. Martinů shared the depressing premonition of his nation. All the stronger then does a national note resound in his works of those times. It can also be heard in the Sonatina.
The Sonata for Violin and Piano (1961) by the contemporary Czech composer Luboš Fišer (1935 - 1999) is just as brief as B. Martinů's Sonatina. Its structure, form and expression, however, are rather demanding. Luboš Fišer is a composer, who thinks and feels as a dramatist in all his works. His Sonatas, especially those for piano, consist of only one movement emanating concise, fascinating, pointed contrasts and deep subtext of thought. The sub-title of The Hands of the Sonata has a multiple symbolic meaning.
The Duo Praga '90 - Pavel Eret, violin and Jaroslava Vítová, piano, was founded in 1990 at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Prague. Both artists are laureates of several international competitions. Pavel Eret is a concert master with the Nagoya Symphony Orchestra, Japan, since 1997. They introduce juwels of Czech music of the 19th and 20th centuries on this CD here.
RKM 001-2 131