Eugen Suchoň to his 100th birthday anniversary
Milan Paľa – violin, Ladislav Fanzowitz - piano
MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL - REVIEW
Sonata in A Flat Major, for violin and piano, op. 1 /ES40/ (1929-1930)
Allegro ma non troppo 8:22
Allegro vivo 5:29
Sonatina, for violin and piano, op. 11 /ES57/ (1937)
Allegretto con agitatione 5:13
Largo, sostenuto 4:32
Allegro assai 3:06
Poeme macabre, for violin and piano, op. 17 (1963) 10:51
Little Suite with Passacaglia, for piano, op. 3 /ES45/ (1931-32)
Ballad Suite, for piano, op. 9 /ES54/ (1934-36)
Allegro moderato, ma energico 4:53
Allegro molto 5:33
Largo, con malinconia 4:26
Metamorphoses, five variations on original themes for piano /ES77/ (1951-53)
Andante con moto 2:09
L’istesso tempo 2:36
Allegro moderato 5:24
Allegro feroce 9:16
Elegy, for piano /ES96/ (1973) 3:13
Toccata, for piano /ES96/ (1978) 3:47
CD SIDE – AUDIO
DVD SIDE – DVD-AUDIO
ADVANCED RESOLUTION SUROUND SOUND 48 kHz/24 bit
ADVANCED RESOLUTION STEREO SOUND 48 kHz/24 bit
Recorded digitally at Fatra Hall Žilina • Recording, Mastering, (24 bit/192 kHz) • Production and Distribution: PAVLÍK RECORDS
Producer: Leonard Vajdulák
Music Director: Ladislav Fanzowitz
Sound Director: Rostislav Pavlík
Notes: Danica Štilichová, Igor Javorský, Eva Planková
Translation © Perer Ratcliffe, katarína Hanzelová •
Design © Martin Vojtek
© PAVLÍK RECORDS 2008
Published with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic
“... People themselves set their own fate... from moments of fellowship, friendship, chance and dreams, which were once or are now reality. It is necessary only with immense persistence and effort to maintain the gift which nature has presented us with and, thought there is the risk of costly failure, not to fear going further to our goal...
Believe me, it is an exquisite feeling to look back and see that one‘s life and endeavours have borne fruit. And the Slovak earth, even in barren times, has produced its fruit. If today our music is in full bloom, if it has from its depths something to tell the world which we have become accustomed to calling modern, let us thank our land for it, the songs of this land. Let us protect it, indeed, it has shone on our centuries-long history and given us love and life...”
National Artist Eugen Suchoň
The introduction without scheme...
Normally, I should start with the licitation of biographical data about Eugen Suchoň. However, I am pushed to drop it and leave the facts for later, because in areas, where several massive energies meet, nothing stays solid; everything obtains new shapes, colours, new relations are created in the micro-world and the macro-world and new objects and phenomena appear. Something must disappear and something gets discovered. On this CD, four massive forms of energy meet. The first one is the music, of course, with its capricious changeability, savageness and rampancy. The second energy found its place in the personality of Eugen Suchoň. Another irresistible form of energy are Ladislav Fanzowitz and Milan Paľa. This constellation guarantees pure music, resolution, consistence, sincerity and submission to something that is higher than me – although I am a famous musician and people applaud me in concert halls, theatres, music clubs, lounges and apartments etc. Firstly, I´ll try to make a small profession (it is not a tentative to define anything!); music is one of the mythical proto-energies that inhibit the light-headed will of the modern person to escape the culture medium of ages and eternity. This fundamental power of music was very quickly captured by Mr. professor and maestro Eugen Suchoň. The fact he is often referred to as ballad-maker, rhapsody-maker and the bard of the Slovak music culture is not just a self-conceited caprice of a theoretician, a professional in musicology or a researcher. It is the same as in the ancient myths, eposes and legends: one wants to tell the world something vertiginous, something special, about something with no concrete shape, line, height and width, no weight, about something that is not determined with a date, coordinates or other data. But if one really wants to talk about the fascinating “something”, one has to respect the necessity to give it a shape, a scheme and a form. The word of a myth or an epos is one of the initial forms of this great narrative. But just before the word, there is music and image. The two ways of expression capture the content of a great story, make it concrete, form it, but also leave its initial content be. Those are myths and eposes and those are their sprouts – ballads and rhapsodies. Suchoň´s music incredibly balances on the verge of a huge mysterious story of the man and the creative sharpness, invention and composition technique. On one hand it is always restless, on the other hand it offers enough opportunities even for those that likes and yields to naming, classifying, systemizing, categorizing and set up the claim of a learned person to apply forms to this torrent of energy and ideas. However, in spite of all these respectable tentative, Suchoň´s music remains provocatively unknown. Even the maestro had a dilemma in this field: he wanted to bear testimony to music in a work of theory. But he did not convince many people; where there is a source of pure essence of music, seeds of musical and theoretical morality cannot grow. Suchoň accepts only people that are not afraid to learn something different from beauty salons, people that do not take stand on the self-realization of a theoretician or a scientist. Even if this kind of encounter takes place, a respectable almanac of reports, papers and studies can be created, but the music of maestro Suchoň rather prefers a humble soul and an open hearth with an impetuous spiritual energy. This CD brings an important moment. Two souls and hearts of this kind met, hearts that are not afraid of important knowledge. Ladislav Fanzowitz and Milan Paľa did not get scared of the mythical dimensions of Suchoň´s music and after a long time they deided to create something more complete and radical. It is particularly wonderful, because young musicians explore in the field that is often considered to be an obsolete poetics. But something ancient and eternal cannot get obsolete... And now I have to finally comply to the good practice; here are some facts about Eugen Suchoň: he was born in Pezinok; it was a very active young man that could ensure music production in lounges, a dancing school and the church. He was interested in sports in the area, byt finally, music seduced him and led him to study in Bratislava and Prague to get him into the society of the Slovak social and cultural elite. The first great success was the piano version of the Balladic suite in 1936. But even before, Suchoň showed himself in several smaller works - in the Sonata for violin and piano opus 1 (1930), in the Little Suite with Passacaglia (1932). The Sonatina for violin and piano is from the year 1937, the Metamorphoses were created in the difficult period from 1951 to 1953, the dynamic Poéme macabre “was born” in 1963, the Toccata for piano was created in 1973 and finally, the Elegy for piano in 1978. Forty years of productive life devoted to music is a relatively huge time interval. But not even the forty years violated the contacts of Eugen Suchoň with pure musical sources of ballads, rhapsody, toccata, sonata, elegy…. Wisdom… ancientry… humanity… Igor Javorský
(*25th September 1908, Pezinok - † 5th August 1993, Bratislava)
Eugen Suchoň first came into contact with music at home. He studied at grammar school between 1917 and 1923; in the meantime, he started attending the Music School for Slovakia in Bratislava, studying the piano under the tuition of the brilliant teachers Frico Kafenda, Ernest Križan, and Libuše Adamcová-Svobodová. When this school became the Academy of Music and Drama, with the status of a conservatory, he studied composition under Prof. F. Kafenda - an acknowledged and the most talented and accomplished musician of the time (conductor, composer, pianist, and chamber player), with principles adopted from the Leipzig school of composition, and a former pupil of S. Jadassohn, S. Krehl, and A. Nikisch. Having graduated in the fields of composition and conducting (under Prof. Jozef Vincourek, 1931) he continued his studies at the Masters School of the Prague Conservatory under Prof. Vítězslav Novák (1931 - 1933).
An important part of Suchoň´s legacy lies in his pedagogical activities, the significance of which is highlighted by the fact that it coincides with the period of establishing professional music education in Slovakia. After finishing school in 1933, he began teaching musical theory and the ‘obligatory’ piano at the Academy of Music and Drama for Slovakia in Bratislava; he was its Secretary between 1938 and 1941, and went on to take up the post of Professor (1941 - 1948). He taught at the Department of Musical Education at the Pedagogical Faculty of the Slovak University in Bratislava (1947 - 1950), and went on to work as a Professor and Head of the Department of Musical Education at the Pedagogical University in Bratislava (1950 - 1960). After these schools were amalgamated under the umbrella of Comenius University’s Philosophical Faculty (in 1960), he remained as a Professor of Musical Theory until his retirement in 1974. Suchoň expressed his educational principles through his theoretical work and compositions. Eugen Suchoň soon became an established figure in the field of culture, often holding important posts, and being invited to participate in expert committees. 1933 - 1938: Secretary of the Czechoslovak Union of Musical Professions for Slovakia; at the same time, he headed the examination committee for composition at the University of Performing Arts in Bratislava; 1963 - 1970: chair of the festival committee at the Bratislava Music Festival - the most eminent international music festival in Slovakia - as well as other music festivals (the Musical Summers in Trenčianske Teplice and Piešťany); long-time chair of the Slovak Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (1945 - 1976); as chair of the Preparation Committee, he helped establish the Slovak Philharmonic (1949 - 1950); as a member of the board, he contributed to the establishment and shaping of the Union of Slovak Composers and Concert Performers (1948 - 1982, chair from 1972 to 1982); member of the Slovak parliament - the Slovak National Council (1971 - 1982). Eugen Suchoň`s talents were also acknowledged abroad - for example, he was the vice-president of the international organisation for copyright protection, the Paris-based CISAC (1966 - 1969), and a member of the East German Academy of Arts in Berlin (1975).
At home, he received wide acclaim for his works.
Eugen Suchoň`s works comprise theatre, orchestra, vocal, vocal/instrumental, and chamber pieces. Two stages of development can be seen from the aspect of composition. The first saw a gradual transition from the chromatic scales of late romanticism to a modal conception of melodies and harmonies, influenced by the deep-rooted elements of Slovak folk songs. Suchoň brought polarity to expression in the developing, modern Slovak music scene, with emphasis on balladic and contemplative elements on the one hand, coupled with expression and drama on the other. This period saw the composition of A Little Suite with Passacaglia op. 3 for piano, the song cycle Nox et solitudo op. 4, Serenade op. 5 for wind quintet, and Burlesque op. 7 for violin and orchestra. This tendency became even more pronounced in opus no. 8, the male choir cycle About Mountains, and culminated in the Balladic Suite op. 9 and the patriotic Psalm of the Land Beneath the Carpathian Mountains op. 12. In 1939, thanks to a recommendation by a member of the International Society for Contemporary Music, Alois Hába, together with the scores for the Balladic Suite and Psalm of the Land Beneath the Carpathian Mountains (which were released thanks to the activities of the Society`s publisher), Eugen Suchoň became one of the founders of modern Slovak composition, whose works were released by a foreign publisher - Universal Edition. After its Slovak premiere in 1936, the Balladic Suite was - partly for this reason - performed in Prague and Dresden, conducted by Karl Böhm; it also found its way into the repertoire of the Vienna Philharmonic with Wilhelm Furtwängler, and was performed in Rotterdam, Utrecht, Basle, Budapest, Bucharest, and Zagreb, with conductors such as Lovro von Matačič, Krešimir Baranovič, and Paul Sacher. The Psalm of the Land Beneath the Carpathian Mountains was also performed abroad, while its predecessor - the Sonatina for Violin and Piano op. 11 - was performed in 1939, at the 17th festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in Krakow.
One of the themes running through Suchoň`s inter-war compositions was an inclination towards Slovakia’s distant past, as reflected in Overture op. 10, and later in Music to the Drama King Svätopluk. After the war, Suchoň completed his opera Whirlpool (written between 1941 - 1949), which became Slovakia’s national opera. He applied his creative talents here to the full. Not only did it stimulate the flourishing of Slovak opera, but it also became an “export article”, receiving great acclaim abroad. Whirlpool became the most-performed Slovak opera outside the Slovak Republic; it was successful even despite the stagnation of foreign relations, which stemmed from the adverse political situation in Slovakia at that time. In 1954, the Linz Opera also displayed interest in Whirlpool, which heralded the start of a successful European tour. According to the account of A. Gabauer, it premiered in Karl Marx Stadt (now Chemnitz, 1955), Augsburg (1956), Leipzig, Berlin, Nordhausen, Weimar (1958), Tbilisi, Kassel, Nuremberg, Budapest, Cluj, Poznań, Katowice (1959), Moscow (1961), Antwerp (1968, with a new premiere in 1973), Novi Sad (1968), Ljubljana (1972), Osnabrück (1976), Munich, Saratov, and Lansing University in Michigan, USA (1979); it was also performed at all the Slovak and Czech opera scenes (Bratislava, Košice, Banská Bystrica, Prague, Brno, Liberec, Ústí nad Labem, Ostrava, Pilsen, Olomouc, Opava, and České Budějovice). Suchoň built upon the artistic standard set by Whirlpool in his subsequent symphonic suite, Metamorphoses. A shift was seen in the composer’s second important opera, Svätopluk, which, alongside certain associations with Whirlpool, reflected a more profound interest in folk music through a deeper delving into its basic structural sources; the opera was distinguished by a new, more monumental and raw sound. His second stage of development in the field of composition is characterised by the adoption of dodecaphony, as seen in Six Compositions for String Orchestra, the choral cycle About Man, the expressive triptych About Blood (the song cycle Ad Astra, Poeme macabre for violin and piano, and the melodramatic Contemplations for orator and piano), and the Rhapsodic Suite for piano and orchestra. At that time, Suchoň was already working on a wide-ranging theoretical work, Accordic. From Three- to Twelve-Tone, which was an analysis, rationalisation, and explanation of his own style of composition, with examples provided by his conceptions of the cycle entitled Kaleidoscope (Evoluzioni armoniche) for piano or chamber groups. The culmination of his efforts towards creating a certain equilibrium between the European musical legacy, dodecaphony, and progress in his own compositions was seen in his opus Symphonic Fantasia on a B-A-C-H Theme for organ, strings, and drums.
The lifelong work of Eugen Suchoň - a representative of musical modernism in Slovakia - is regarded as a symbol of both high art and human qualities. All in all, it reflects a relationship with the development of European music; Suchoň was inspired on the one hand by classical works, and reacted to the trends of his era on the other. He was also greatly inspired by Slovak folk music. The combination of these influences led to the crystallisation of his own, specific form of expression, which was characterised by an astonishing sense for invention, coupled with the ingenious inclusion of detail in coherent, epic wholes, thus creating a new approach to tradition. In this way, Eugen Suchoň not only established a new style of music, but also a new aesthetic, on a global scale.
Ladislav Fanzowitz (1980) finished his studies at the Conservatoire in Bratislava in the class of Peter Čerman with the title “Best Graduate” in the year 2000. From 1999 to 2000 he studied at the Academy of Music and Drama in Prague (under Marián Lapšanský), from 2000 to 2002 at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna (Wolfgang Watzinger) and from 2000 to 2005 at the Academy of Music and Drama in Bratislava (Marián Lapšanský).
Several times he was finalist and prize-winner at national and international competitions: Chopin International Piano Competition in Mariánske Lázně, Nyiregyhazi International Competition in Krakow, Competition of Slovak Conservatory Students, International Competition Piano Bratislava, International J. N. Hummel Competition in Bratislava, Competition Talent in 2000 and 2002 ... He also took part in several master courses (Jan Wijn, Abbey Simon, György Sándor, Marián Lapšanský, Karl Heinz Kämmerling, Mikhail Voskressensky...).
As soloist he has appeared with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra of the Czech Radio, Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmo¬nic Zlin, Philharmonic orchestra Hradec Kralové, Solistes Europeéns Luxembourg, Pressbur¬ger Philharmoniker, Slovak Chamber Orchestra, under the conductors Ondrej Lenárd, Vladimír Válek, Friedrich Haider, František Vajnar, Jerzy Swoboda, Leoš Svárovský, Tomáš Hanus, Kirk Trevor, Justus Franz, Mário Košik and Jack Martin Händler...
In addition to his activity as soloist, he is also a keen chamber musician He has played at major festivals in Slovakia, in most European countries and the USA. www.fanzowitz.com
Milan Paľa (1982) was born in Prešov. He studied at the Conservatory of Ján Levoslav Bella in Banská Bystrica from 1996 to 2000 in the class of Mgr. Peter Strenáčik. After the graduation, he started to study at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, where he worked for two years in the class of Jela Špitková and Rainer Küchl. Then he studied at the Janáček´s Academy of Musical Arts in Brno, where he graduated in the class of doc. František Novotný. During his studies, he took part in national and international competitions in solo and chamber play. To be mentioned for example: in 1998 and 2000 the 1st places at the Competition of Slovak Conservatories in Košice and Banská Bystrica, in 2001 he obtain the honourable mention and the prize for the best interpretation of the work of Eugen Suchoň at the National Competition of Karol Dobiáš in Bratislava, in 2003 he won the 2nd place at the International Competition of Leoš Janáček in Brno, the 2nd place at the International Competition Concourse Moderne in Riga. He is the concertmaster of the String Quartett - Icarus Quartett, with which he won the 3rd place at the International Competition Beethovenov Hradec, in the category of string quartets in 2003. In 2004, the Icarus Quartett won the 1st place at the International Summer Academy Prague-Wien-Budapest, the 1st place and the prize for the exquisite interpretation of the work of W. A. Mozart - “Adagio and Fuga” and also the prize of Thomastik-Infield, the 2nd prize and the prize for the best interpretation of the work of Bohuslav Martinů at the Competition of Bohuslav Martinů in Prague, the 1st place at the International Competition of Leoš Janáček in Brno. He also took part on masterclasses, e.g. the masterclasses of Vladimir Spivakov in Zürich, of Jean Guillou as an interpreter of his Works and of Semion Yarosevic.
As a solist, he performed with orchestras, for example with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Brno, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with the Radio Orchestra Kyiv, the Congress Orchestra of St. Petersburg, the Philharmonic Orchestra of St. Petersburg, the Capella of St. Petersburg and with conductors like Theodor Guschlbauer, Alexander Cernusenko, David Svec, Peter Gribanov and others He performed in various European countries, for example Switzerland, France, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Malta etc. He recorded a CD of violin works and chamber music works of Jevgenij Irsai and his profile CD with his pianist colleague, Pavol Farkaš.