1 Suite for String Orchestra (2005) 7.07
Pastorale - Sarabanda - Scherzando - Tarantella
Ján Levoslav Bella
2 Rondo for String Orchestra (1881) 3.52
3 Per Natalizio (2001) 6.43
4 Suite in Old Style (1982) 8.06
Menuetto - Gavotte - Passepied - Aria - Gigue
5 Emmeleia for Violin and Chamber Orchestra (1994) 4.22
6 Musica slovaca for Violin and String Orchestra (1975) 5.52
7 Serenade for String Orchestra, Op. 5 (1932-33) 12.23
Marcia (Tempo di Marcia) - Berceuse (Lento con tristezza) - Scherzo (Allegro molto) - Nocturno (Andante) - Finale (Allegro energico)
ARCHI DI SLOVAKIA, String Ensemble of the Slovak Sinfonietta Zilina František FIGURA - violin, artistic director Ernest Patkoló - violin Radovan Varga - violin Peter Soušek - violin Maroš Didi - violin Slavomír Glos - violin Szaniewska Oľga - violin Marek Pukl - viola Libuše Sršňová - viola Pavol Šimčík - violoncello Katarína Tumajerová - violoncello Michal Kvitkovský - double bass Soloist: František Figura - violin The guests musicians (only in No. 5) Tibor Kováč - harp, Libor Cabejšek - percussion
The string ensemble of the Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina, ARCHI DI SLOVAKIA, was founded in 1997 by the orchestra’s concertmaster, František Figura. The group consists of the best string players, who have developed numerous concert activities outside of the Slovak Sinfonietta’s regular concerts. Most of these players also perform as soloists with the SSŽ or with small chamber groups. Archi di Slovaka has performed many concerts on their home stage in the Fatra Concert Hall in Žilina, as well as making many recordings for Slovak Radio in Banská Bystrica They regularly participate in international summer festivals in Slovak cities: the Musica Sacra Festival in Nitra; „Talents for Europe“ in Dolný Kubín; the Guitar Festival in Nitra, and the International Festival „Musica Nobilis.“ On may 1, 2004, they performed at a concert in Piešťany celebrating Slovakia’s entrance into the European Union. In 1999 they performed at the Thurn und Taxis Festival, and also gave concerts in Holland’s musical centers: the Hague, Amsterdam, Leiden and Leeuwarden, and at the summer festival in Maulbronn, Germany. In 2001 they toured Spain for two weeks, and in 2002 they gave concerts in Vienna and other European centers. In 2005 they performed six concerts in Canada. The ensemble has also been part of the SSŽ’s programs in nearly all European countries, Tunisia, the USA, Brazil and Japan. They worked with such significant artists as violinist Václav Hudeček, sopranos Nao Higano and Sharon Kim, mezzo-soprano Eve Garajová, conductors Christian Pollack, Mathias Maurer and Karol Kevicky, violinist Barbara Gorzynská, flutist Ján Figura, organist Anna Zúriková, etc.
František Figura started playing the violin at the age of three. At the age of twelve he became the first special student at the Conservatory of Music in Žilina, studying with Professor Bohumil Urban. After completing his studies there, he won several prestigious awards at competitions for young artists, including the Kocián Competition and the Hradec Beethoven Competition. He started his orchestra career in the Košice Philharmonic, where he became a member of the Košice Quartet. He joined the SSŽ in 1976, as leader of the second violins, and since 1983 he has been concertmaster of the orchestra. He performed as soloist in many national and international concerts and festivals, including in Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Japan and Austria. He was for several years the first violinist of the prestigious Trávniček Quartet, and has performed in nearly all countries of Europe as well as in Tunisia, Brazil and Mexico. He was the concertmaster of the Vanessa Mae Symphonic Orchestra on their European tour. He performed Vivaldi’s „The Seasons“ with the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra in Israel. He is also very interested in contemporary Slovak music, and has played the world premieres of many compositions. His recordings include the Vivaldi Double Violin Concerto for Naxos Records, and Lanner compositions for A. S. S. A.
Ladislav Kupkovič (1936), a Slovak composer living in Germany, studied violin and conducting at the University of Musical Arts in his native Bratislava with M. Jelinek and Ľ. Rajter. Toward the end of the 1950’s and during the 1960’s he stood together with I. Zeljenka, R. Berger and other composers at the cradle of the Slovak musical avant-guard, representing their most radical course. Since 1964 his work has been closely connected with the ensemble The Music of Today, which is realizing his most audacious experiments. As radical as the development of his work had been until the mid-1970’s, his movement toward tonal composition and classical poetics has been equally striking. In 1969 he emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany, and since 1976 has been a professor at the Hochschule fur Musik and Theater in Hannover. He won the first prize in the competition Kirchenmusikwoche Neuss for his work Missa Papae Ioannis Pauli Secundi (1980). In the composers’ competition in the 1996 Year of Slovak Music, he won a special prize for the Concerto for Bugle and Orchestra. Of recent compositions must be mentioned the Chiaconna On Bach’s Theme; Do You Like Vivaldi; the opera The Triple Rose; the Concerto in G for Violoncello and Orchestra, the Concerto in G for Violin and Orchestra, and the concertino for Double-Bass, Piano and Strings. The Suite for an Orchestra of Stringed Instruments, composed in 2005, belongs to the last works of Mr. Kupkovič. The ensemble Archi di Slovakia introduced it during the Year of Slovak Music, and also at the festival „Musical Spring of Cifer“ on May 14, 2006, attended by the president of the Slovak Republic, Ivan Gašparovič.
The Slovak composer, conductor and pedagogue Ján Levoslav Bella (1843 - 1936) is regarded as a founder of Slovak musical culture. He studied at grammar-schools in Levoča and Banská Bystrica, and in the theological seminary in Vienna. There he was taught by S. Sechter and the court bandmaster G. Preyer. He was already musically active during his priestly duties in Banská Bystrica, and later became a musical director in Kremnica and undertook artistic travels to Bohemia and Germany. During the years 1881-1921 he was active as a choir-master, teacher and conductor in Sibin. After the end of the world war he moved to Vienna, and from 1928 until his death he worked in Bratislava. As a composer he was active almost seventy years. His creations were characterized by the expanding ideal of universalism, leading from the folk-song and local ecclasiastical music to the adoption of the creative ideals of romanticism and neoromanticism. As a creator in all musical genres of his time, he inevitable took a founder’s role in the newborn Slovak national music. His most important works are the opera The Smith Wieland, the Concert Prelude in E-flat, the symphonic poem “Fate and the Ideal,“ the B-flat String Quartet, the cantatas „The Marriage of Jánošik“ and „The Strange Bandit, and a multitude of chamber and vocal works. Bella wrote „Rondo“ during his time in Sibin. It is a short, simple rondo composition with an expressive melody, probably written to order for an ensemble of stringed instruments composed of four violins, a viola, a violoncello and a double bass.
The young Slovak composer Ján Mazák (1977) was born in Žilina. Shortly thereafter he moved with his family to Košice where he is currently living and working. He comes from a musical family, and his father is a member of the State Theater orchestra in Košice. In 1991 he was accepted at the Conservatory in Žilina, where he studied the violoncello and conducting (Š. Sedlický). He completed his studies at the Conservatory in Košice, where he graduated with honors in piano performance and conducting. He has composed since childhood. Self-taught as a composer, he writes operas, symphonies, instrumental concertos and chamber works. He was active as a conductor, choir-master and as a member of the State Theater orchestra in Košice. Currently he teaches piano while actively devoting himself to composing, philosophy and the writing of essays and fables, some of which have been broadcast. The composition Per Natalizio (For Her Birthday) was written in 2001 for his friend as a present on her birthday. It is a traditional composition, with classical harmony and expressive melodies, full of devices which are attractive for interpreters and the public alike. It was premiered by the State Chamber Orchestra of Žilina on November 14, 2007.
Composer and conductor Milan Novák (1927) studied piano, conducting and composition (A. Moyzes) at the Conservatory in Bratislava. After completing his studies, he was for a short time a disciple of Václav Talich; at that time he was already head of the Slovak Folk Artists’ Collective, and conducted the Symphonic Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava. From 1951 his name was connected with the Military Artistic Ensemble in Bratislava, where he was for many years the artistic director. As a composer he has worked in many artistic genres. In all his works a technical efficiency appears, along with sound imagination, anchored in a spontaneous, natural musicality. The State Chamber Orchestra of Žilina has performed his Concerto for Harp and Orchestra; Paraphrases for Flute, Harp, Percussion and Strings; Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra; „Four Faces of the Year“ for children’s ensemble and orchestra; adaptations of Christmas carols, world-favorite melodies and Slovak folk-songs; and the cantata „In Order That Life Would Be On The Earth.“ Archi di Slovakia has had the work Suite In Old Style in its repertoire since its formation; it has performed it at many concerts and festivals in Slovakia, and also on a tour of Canada (2005) and at the Zemplin Festival in Sarospatak, Hungary (2006). It is a typical example of neo-baroque composition, related to parts of the French suite.
Vladimír Godár (1956) belongs at present to the most expressive composers of his generation, with a wide international reputation. He completed his studies with Dezider Kardoš at the University of Musical Arts in Bratislava in 1980, with the Symphony No. 1 for Orchestra as his graduation piece. During 1988-89 he graduated, on scholarship, from the Hochschule fur (umlaut) Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna as a student of Roman Haubenstock-Ramatt. He is a winner of many prizes, of which we must mention the J. L. Bella Prize for the works Partita and Concerto grosso per archi e cembalo; the music-critics’ prize for the work „The Orchard of Dariačange; the prize Golden Nail for the music for the films „Tenderness“ and „The Flight of the Asphalt Pigeon;“ the Bohemian Lion for the music to the film „The Idiot’s Return; the Georges Delerue Prize for the film „The Landscape (best music of 2001 at the Flemish International Film Festival in Ghent); and the Crystal Wing for 2006. Among his most recent works are those created in cooperation with Iva Bitt (the two appearing under the name The Mother) on Pavian Records (2006). The record, having been heard abroad, is winning one prestige prize after another. Of his works for chamber orchestra, the State Chamber Orchestra of Žilina introduced Barcarola, for violin, harp, cembalo and strings; Emmeleia (Meditation) for solo violin, strings and tympani; Concerto Grosso; and the Little Suite for Little David. For many of his works a concurrence of two fundamental starting-points is characteristic: a relatively short motivic form and a spacious area on which that form is realized. But unlike minimalism, Godár’s music moves ahead in stages, rippled by expressive changes in the materials, and coupled with maximum dynamic contrast. From the 1980’s to the 1990’s his music made reference to historical periods, whether through association or directly in the musical process. The esthetic of his music is closely related to the esthetic of G. Kančeli, H.M. Gorecky and A. Schnittke. Emmeleia was composed at the suggestion of the festival Evenings of New Music for the project „Eric Satie..morceaux en forme de poire.“ Platon, in his classification of dances, titled „emmeleia“ as beautiful, noble (not low), and peaceful (without struggle). The composition exists in several instrumental versions; one was selected by the director Martin Šulík for his film „The Garden.“ The version for violin and chamber orchestra had its premiere during the State Chamber Orchestra of Žilina concert at the international festival Melos-Ethos 1999.
Ilja Zeljenka (1932 – 2007) is one of the few internationally-influential Slovak composers, to which his importance in the development of Slovak music in the 20th century is a clue. He graduated from the University of Musical Arts in Bratislava, where he was a pupil of Ján Cikker. After a period of rebellion against the „classics“ of 20th century musical literature, he devoted himself in the 1960s to enforcing and developing the post-Webern procedures of composition, experimenting with electroacoustic and concrete music, aleatoric procedures, etc. To the styles mentioned, he joined a definite inspiration from folklore, and he endeavored to create a synthesis of all starting points with a proper formation of the music process. Of his rich creation, the most interesting works are five symphonies; eight string quartets; four piano sonatas; the cantata „Ošwiecim;“ the Concerto for piano and orchestra; „Galgenlieder“ to poems of Ch. Morgenstern; and the „Passion, Son of Man.“ The State Chamber Orchestra of Žilina has introduced, both here and abroad, several of his works: the cantata „A Word,“ for reciter, mixed choir and orchestra, on verses of M. Válek;Concerto for Two Violoncelli and String Orchestra; Concertino for Violin and Strings; Epilogue; Concerto Grosso for Organ and Strings; Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra; Musica Slovaca; Concertino for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra; „Sarcasms;“ and others. Musica Slovaca for Solo Violin and String Orchestra, based on motives of folk songs from Čičmany, was written in 1975, and although it does not belong to the most characteristic works of Zeljenka, it has become one of the most often presented Slovak compositions both here and abroad. It was composed for the competition Prix de Musique Folklorique of Radio Bratislava, and the most devoted interpreter thereof was the legendary Slovak violinist Bohdan Warchal.
For the year 2008, UNESCO has proclaimed the hundredth anniversary of Eugen Suchoň (1908 - 1993) as one of the musical anniversaries of priority, as his work belongs already to the classics of the 20th century. In the 1930’s Suchoň’s music represented a decisive contribution to the crystallization of Slovak national music. Characteristic of his works is a tendency toward seething musical dramatics, with fervent lyricism – reflection and meditation are less in evidence. He achieves an admirable balance between the immediate inspiration and its rational working-out. His most important works are the operas „The Whirlpool“ and „Svätopluk;“ the cantata „The Psalm of the Land Below the Carpathians“; the Fantasy and Burlesque for violin and orchestra, song-cycles and choruses „About the Mountains,“ „Nox et Solitudo,“ and „Ad Astra;“ the Symphonic Fantasy B-A-C-H for organ and orchestra; Contemplations for piano and orchestra, Balladic Suite and Rhapsodic Suite for piano and orchestra; Concertino for clarinet and orchestra, the symphonic suite Metamorphoses; Pictures From Slovakia (6 cycles for piano); numerous chamber works, including Sonatina for violin and piano; Serenade for brass quintet and strings; Piano Quintet; and six compositions for string instruments. Suchoň has gained world-wide success especially for his piano works, begun already during his studies at the master class of V. Novak. The Serenade, Op. 5, is a work of this period. Originally it was composed for brass quintet (1932 - 33). Later he adapted it for string orchestra. The titles of the individual movements reflect small song forms, in which nevertheless all the characteristic features of Suchoň’s style can be observed.
Published with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic