The Members of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Catherine Baker (flute), Nick Tisherman (oboe), Sergio Coelho (clarinet), Benjamin Mitchell (bass clarinet), Nick Akdag (bassoon), and Martin Mangrum (horn), interpret Leoš Janáček's Mládí (Youth), suite for wind sextet. The concert was recorded at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, California, United States, on October 9, 2016.
Janáček composed his great wind sextet Mladi in 1924 in the month of his 70th birthday. Also referred to as the youth sextet, the work figured into the period between the Piano Concertino and the orchestral Danube.
This was clearly a splendid time in the life of the composer. With many recent successes, a celebration was held in Janácek's honor to crown the septuagenarian's accomplishments. Performances of his music were undertaken. Even a bust of the composer was unveiled in his native Moravia. Having thus achieved a sort of celebrity status, Janácek produced the highly original sextet for winds best known as Mladi, Youth, a term that has been taken different ways.
Youth, as Janácek defined it (in this context), referred to childhood memories, with particular emphasis on the third movement of the sextet which recalls a tune the composer heard as a boy. A broader meaning of youth in a discussion about Janácek refers us to the last 10 or so years of the composer's life, wherein his most inspired and youthfully inspired work unfolded.
Clearly one of his finest chamber works, the score of Mladi bubbles forth with great enthusiasm and fresh ideas. Interestingly, when Janácek was working on the sextet, he was also at work on The Makropoulos Case, an opera that features a young-looking but chronologically ancient heroine. So, the theme of youth and regeneration appears to figure in Janácek's work, either as a programmatic aside or as a central theme, as in one of his stage productions.
The sextet was arranged for the usual woodwind quintet, but with the bass clarinet added. There are four contrasting movements. In the third movement (con moto), the flute player switches over to the piccolo and plays the March of the Blueboys. Janácek had originally sketched this movement out several weeks before tackling the sextet, having arranged it for piccolo and piano. The origin of this march is uncertain. Biographer Malcolm Rayment once wrote that the term blue boys referred to a group of boy choristers at a monastery in Brno, a monastery the young Janácek sang at. Guy Erismann, in writing on Mladi, reported that the march has its origin with a Prussian Army band. Apparently, the Prussians had occupied Brno in 1866; Janácek would have been twelve years old at the time, old enough to remember the melody.
Source: Franklin Stover (allmusic.com)
Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)
♪ Mládí (Youth), suite for wind sextet, JW 7/10 (1924)
i. Andante (Allegro)
ii. Moderato (Andante sostenuto)
iii. Allegro (Vivace)
iv. Con moto (Allegro animato)
Members of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra:
Catherine Baker, flute
Nick Tisherman, oboe
Sergio Coelho, clarinet
Benjamin Mitchell, bass clarinet
Nick Akdag, bassoon
Martin Mangrum, horn
Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, California, United States, October 9, 2016
Leos Janácek (1854-1928) is regarded as the greatest Czech composer of the early twentieth century. In his early works, which included the opera Sárka (1888), and numerous vocal and instrumental works, Janácek followed a traditional, Romantic idiom, typical of late nineteenth century music. Having completed Sárka, however, Janácek immersed himself in the folk music of his native Moravia, gradually developing an original compositional style. Eschewing regular metrical phrasing, Janácek developed a declamatory method of setting the voice that follows the natural rhythmic patterns of the Czech language. Characteristically, Janácek allowed these patterns to inform the music itself. In addition, Janácek's harmonies, forms and orchestration are highly idiosyncratic. His music favors repetitive patterns, often set in stark contrast to longer, more lyrical, lines, or large blocks of sound. Dramatic effects are attained with minimal thematic or contrapuntal elaboration. The result is music of great rhythmic drive, sharp contrasts, and an intricate, montage-like texture. Exemplifying Janácek's radical stylistic transformation is his tragic opera Jenufa (1904), based on a story of jealousy, murder, and innocence.
At first unknown outside of Moravia, where he was recognized primarily as a teacher, conductor, and champion of folk music, Janácek first gained national and international fame with the Prague production of Jenufa in 1916. The success of Jenufa in Prague tremendously energized the composer, who, in his sixties, experienced an astonishing creative surge, composing several masterpieces. Janácek's euphoric state of mind could be attributed to two factors. First of all, after the foundation, in 1918, of the Czechoslovak state, Janácek became a national celebrity. The second, and perhaps more important, factor, was Janácek's affection for Kamila Stösslová, a considerably younger married woman. While his ardor was not reciprocated, Janácek's passion for Kamila undoubtedly simulated his creativity.
Janácek's modern fame rests on his four last operas, Kát'a Kabanová (1921), The Cunning Little Vixen (1924), The Makropulos Affair (1926) and the posthumously premiered From the House of the Dead (1930). What makes these works outstanding is Janácek's profound dramatic sense, which allows his operas, in spite of their brevity, to effectively communicate a complex plot. The dramatic effect is heightened by the composer's ability to adapt his music to the tonal and rhythmic characteristics of the Czech language. The last four operas in particular are perfectly paced for the right dramatic impact. In addition, Janácek drew on the inner resources of music and speech to convey complex feelings and emotional states to his listeners. Janácek's extraordinary power in translating profound psychological insights into music truly comes to the fore in The Makropoulos Affair, based on a work by Karel Capek, a story about a woman with the gift of eternal youth.
In 1926, Janácek, whose early interest in Moravian folk music developed into an effort to grasp Slavic musical traditions in their totality, composed his Glagolitic Mass, a work aiming to express the profound spiritual bonds underlying the seemingly disparate cultural traditions of the Slavic nations (the term "glagolitic" refers to one of the early alphabets of Old Slavic). During his final creative period, Janácek also composed a small number of exceptional chamber works, including the two string quartets and the Sinfonietta. In addition to his work as a composer, Janácek actively contributed to his country's musical life as a teacher, critic, and organizer. Founder of the Brno Organ School (later to become the Brno Conservatory), director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, teacher at the State Conservatory of Prague, and initiator of many musical festivals, Janácek greatly enriched Eastern European music education and culture.
Source: Zoran Minderovic (allmusic.com)
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