Novák: Piano Concerto & Toman and the Wood Nymph

Jan Bartoš, piano

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra; Jakub Hrůša, conductor

Supraphon / 2020

The greatest Czech composers – Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček, Suk, Martinů … And anyone else? Yes, Vítězslav Novák! Who was he? A pupil of Dvořák’s, later on one of the most distinguished music creators and teachers on the domestic scene. A Post-Romantic and the first of the generation of Modernists profoundly inspired by Moravian folk music. Jakub Hrůša, a globally renowned contemporary conductor, invites us to rediscover Novák’s music: “We are obliged to perform it. His music is so profound and far-reaching that we simply cannot ignore it and let it gather dust in archives and remain buried in music history textbooks.”

– 150th anniversary of Novák’s birth

– First studio recording of the Piano Concerto, a remarkable early work by the 25-year-old Novák

– The tone poem Toman and the Wood Nymph may be deemed the most ambitious of Novák’s symphonic works.

– As the composer himself put it, he strove to express an “uncontrollable torrent of wild passion”, referring to the piece as an “orgy of sound” and the ballad as a “depiction of woman’s demonic power over man”

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in E Minor
1. No. 1, Allegro energico
2. No. 2, Andante con sentimento
3. No. 3, Allegro giusto

At Dusk, Op. 13
4. No. 1, Andante rubato
5. No. 2, Alla Ballata
6. No. 3, Serenade No. 1 Andante con moto
7. No. 4, Serenade No. 2 Andante grazioso

8. Toman and the Wood Nymph, Op. 40 “symphonic poem after a Bohemian legend for large orchestra”

Listen on Spotify



[The Concerto] is crammed with hefty bravura solo writing that is dispatched on the recording by Jan Bartoš with suitable muscularity…but it’s the work that ends the disc, the symphonic poem Toman and the Wood Nymph, that justifies Hrůša’s enthusiasm…It’s an effective piece, full of striking, pictorial invention, and Hrůša and the Prague Radio orchestra project it with every bit of the vividness it needs.
The Guardian

Editor's Choice

Composed ten years later, Toman and the Wood Nymph is far more original and confident than the concerto…Hrůša and the orchestra respond well to its turbulent passions in a captivating performance with superb recorded sound…the four movements of At Dusk for solo piano have greater character and in a performance as committed as that of Jan Bartoš show clear evidence of greatness to come.
BBC Music Magazine

Editor's Choice

This music — the youthful piano concerto, a mature set of piano pieces and a tone poem akin to Dvorak’s folk tale masterpieces — hovers between Dvorak, Liszt and the young Strauss and is worth knowing in Hrůša and Jan Bartoš’ idiomatic performances.
The Sunday Times

Editor's Choice