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The Diary of one who vanished

Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)

Mark Padmore

Mark Padmore

Composer
Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)
Composition Year
1916
Artists
Mark Padmore [tenor], Anna Reinhold [mezzo], Julius Drake [piano], Voice Trio - Victoria Couper, Clemmie Franks, Emily Burn

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

And that black gypsy girl in my Diary - that was especially you. That's why there's such emotional heat in these works. So much heat that if it caught both of us, there'd be just ashes left of us. [Janá?ek to Kamila Stösslová]

Kamila Stösslová was Janá?ek's muse during the extraordinary Indian Summer of his life when he composed a seemingly unstoppable flow of masterpieces - four major operas, the Glagolitic Mass, Sinfonietta, both string quartets and several other instrumental works. He was 63 when he first saw Kamila, while on holiday in the Moravian spa of Luha?ovice. She was a beautiful 25-year-old happily married woman with two children, who must have been very self-possessed to resist Janá?ek's impetuous advances all those years without driving him away. He wrote her over seven hundred letters, passionate outpourings that made her the romantic and erotic focus of his creative life. Janá?ek's own never very successful marriage had collapsed under the strain of his very public affair with a famous singer, an affair that was still going on when he first met Kamila.

The poems on which the cycle is based had appeared in a provincial Czech newspaper, ostensibly the work of a farmer's son recounting his seduction by a gypsy girl and his farewell to his parents and home. Short and pithy the poems are written in a dialect close to that of Janá?ek's birthplace, but no one was fooled by the assertion that the poems came from the pen of an uneducated peasant farmer. The name of their author was not discovered until 1997, when a local historian stumbled upon a letter written by an obscure Moravian poet, Ozef Kalda, who unfortunately died before the work's premiere. Janá?ek had the poems with him when he first met Kamila.

Diary turns the traditional Schubertian song-cycle on its head. It is a dramatic cantata for tenor, mezzo-soprano and a small female chorus that emerges from thin air at the crux of the action. It wickedly subverts both the stock nineteenth century idea of the fallen woman and the classic Schubertian model of the love-sick young man moaning about his lost love. Here the first cousin to Schubert's miller is rescued from his apparently inevitable destruction in the flames of unrequited love by the sexy young gypsy girl who takes matters into her own sure hands. But though it is a story of love fulfilled, the music becomes saturated with sadness as the young protagonist realises what he has to leave behind as a result of his love. It is a love story, where the lovers successfully consummate their love, but one that leaves us with a terrible sense of loneliness as the young man wrestles with his farewell to his parents, his sister and his farm - a farewell made more poignant because he dare not tell them face to face what he is doing, he just vanishes. 

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The Diary of one who vanished

Composer: Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)
Performance date: Friday 8th July 2016
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Leoš Janáček (b. 1854 - d. 1928)
Work Title The Diary of one who vanished
Composition Year 1916
Language English
Artist(s) Mark Padmore [tenor], Anna Reinhold [mezzo], Julius Drake [piano], Voice Trio - Victoria Couper, Clemmie Franks, Emily Burn
Performance Date Friday 8th July 2016
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Late Great Show
Duration 00:36:54
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Trio
Instrumentation T-solo, mezzo, pf, voice trio
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

And that black gypsy girl in my Diary - that was especially you. That's why there's such emotional heat in these works. So much heat that if it caught both of us, there'd be just ashes left of us. [Janá?ek to Kamila Stösslová]

Kamila Stösslová was Janá?ek's muse during the extraordinary Indian Summer of his life when he composed a seemingly unstoppable flow of masterpieces - four major operas, the Glagolitic Mass, Sinfonietta, both string quartets and several other instrumental works. He was 63 when he first saw Kamila, while on holiday in the Moravian spa of Luha?ovice. She was a beautiful 25-year-old happily married woman with two children, who must have been very self-possessed to resist Janá?ek's impetuous advances all those years without driving him away. He wrote her over seven hundred letters, passionate outpourings that made her the romantic and erotic focus of his creative life. Janá?ek's own never very successful marriage had collapsed under the strain of his very public affair with a famous singer, an affair that was still going on when he first met Kamila.

The poems on which the cycle is based had appeared in a provincial Czech newspaper, ostensibly the work of a farmer's son recounting his seduction by a gypsy girl and his farewell to his parents and home. Short and pithy the poems are written in a dialect close to that of Janá?ek's birthplace, but no one was fooled by the assertion that the poems came from the pen of an uneducated peasant farmer. The name of their author was not discovered until 1997, when a local historian stumbled upon a letter written by an obscure Moravian poet, Ozef Kalda, who unfortunately died before the work's premiere. Janá?ek had the poems with him when he first met Kamila.

Diary turns the traditional Schubertian song-cycle on its head. It is a dramatic cantata for tenor, mezzo-soprano and a small female chorus that emerges from thin air at the crux of the action. It wickedly subverts both the stock nineteenth century idea of the fallen woman and the classic Schubertian model of the love-sick young man moaning about his lost love. Here the first cousin to Schubert's miller is rescued from his apparently inevitable destruction in the flames of unrequited love by the sexy young gypsy girl who takes matters into her own sure hands. But though it is a story of love fulfilled, the music becomes saturated with sadness as the young protagonist realises what he has to leave behind as a result of his love. It is a love story, where the lovers successfully consummate their love, but one that leaves us with a terrible sense of loneliness as the young man wrestles with his farewell to his parents, his sister and his farm - a farewell made more poignant because he dare not tell them face to face what he is doing, he just vanishes.