World Premiere of Two Melodrams by Josef Vejvoda
Melodram as an art form was widely used in the 19th. century. Composer and musician Josef Vejvoda (son of the composer of the world famous tune „Roll down the barrels“) gave this well established form a new spirit. For his two new works he used the texts of two Pragueborn writers: Franz Kafka and Reiner Maria Rilke. The melodrams were presented at the Kolín synagogue on September 29 at the 12th concert held annually in the memory of the Jews murdered in the Nazi concentration camps.
The first melodram used two Kafka‘s short stories „Refusal“ and „At the Gallery“. The soft, enchanting music portrayed the beauty of young women, so attractive and yet inaccessible - as seen by a perceptive young man.
The second molodram, „Speak up in Astonishment, you Angel“ that used Rilke’s seventh Elegy, is a work of timeless quality. Rilke’s poem itself uses images as music. Their connection with sounds of orchestra enhances the dreamy metaphores to their best. The opening describes spring nature full of promise followed by summer night filled with desire of love. The melodram then leads to further images in which Rilke asks the angel about the sense of human striving and yearning. Can the soul survive the death of the body and continue its pilgrimage in a quest for knowledge and wisdom? Can we hide from the cruel fate into the temple of our heart and thus reach celestial infinity?
Rilke’s Elegy was recited by Alfred Strejček (who initiated this project). He knew well what marvels can be created by the connection of words with sensitive music, and conveyed to the audience his own enchanting vision.
Vejvoda in the two melodrams reached into a new field of his composing style. He built on many years of experience with musical forms that are both demanding and yet communicable to the listener in their originality and charm. Vejvoda’s enchantment with life, love and beauty are reflected more than ever before in these new works. We can only wish that these works will be heard again not just in this country, but also throughout the world.
The Atlantis chamber orchestra under the conductor Vítězslav Podrazil played with technical brilliance and full engagement. In another Vejvoda’s work, „Brazilian Pearl Juibilee“, Vejvoda’s jazz trio joined the orchestra. These three „jazzmen“ and the orchestra merged in a succesful blend of music that proved the top quality of both ensembles.
The atmosphere of the whole concert was exceptionally powerful. It was a fitting commemoration of the tragedy that met so many of our fellow citizens. Even Samuel Barber’s Adagio, known so well and played so often, gained a new dimension. Its elegic, melancholic opening leading gradually to dramatic outcry of despair and then calming down to resignation and acceptance of fate was truly fit to the theme of this concert. The audience that filled the Kolín Synagogue, understood perfectly the message conveyed by the presented works and responded in an applause that showed its full emotional involvement.Jana Outratová
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