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Zdenek Sestak choral works.

Vladimir Doleial - tenor, Roman Janal - baritone, Radovan Lukavsky - recitation, Prague Radio Choir, Kuhn Mixed Choir, Milan Maly, Lubomir Matl, Pavel Kuhn - chorus masters.

Text: Eng., Czech. Recorded: 1977-1996, Prague Radio Studios; 1997, Martinu' Hall, Lichtenstein Palace, Prague.

Released: 2013. Tr: 129:06. ADD., DDD. 2 CDs Radioservis



The album dedicated to the Czech composer Zdenek Sestak's choral works features older and newer recordings of his choral cycles and cantatas. The first disc presents his oldest (1971) cycle of mixed choruses a capella, Hommage a Apollinaire, revealing the composer's affection for chanson, as well as Apollinaire's Renaissance inspiration. The texts, either in the French original or translations by Czech poets (Seifert, Kundera, Capek, etc.), are sung by the Prague Radio Choir with astonishing flexibility, high and pure sopranos and male vocals replete with emotions in deep tones accompanying the lead melodic line. The three-part cycle Pushkin Vigils (1978) is one of Sestak's most popular choral works. In short, terse even, themes, the music comes across as both playful and poignant, always in line with the text. The extensive cycle Portrait of Konstantin Biebl, completed in 1974, is made up of eleven original treatments of various historical musical forms and styles. Part X, titled Cognition, its compositional apex, introduces the excited final idea in the form of passacaglia. In Part XI, Vision, female and male voices masterfully blend in the fugue finale.

The second CD is dedicated to the sacred works Zdenek Sestak began writing during the era of "Normalisation", although anticipating that in all likelihood they would not be performed. Modern vocal polyphony excels in the first cantata, In Deo speravit cor meum (1976), written to texts of Lent psalms. The second cantata, Canticum poeticum de Adalberto sancto ad verba libri missalis, K. H. Macha et J. Jo/en, is a celebration of the Czech patron St. Adalbert, composed to Latin texts, Karel Hynek Macha's and Josef Jelen's poems and accompanied by the unforgettable narration of the actor Radovan Lukavsky. The solo parts are splendidly delivered by the tenor Vladimir Dolezal and the baritone Roman Jana The work, written in 1996, is permeated with humility, devotion and the undying light of hope. The last piece on the CD, the Christmas cantata Laetentur coeli et exsultet terra, expresses the composer's joy at the Nativity of the Lord by means of a jubilant counterpoint in contemporary tonality. The exalted conclusion with the triumphal Alleluia invites spiritual sublimation and tranquillity. The 2-CD set comprising choral works by one of the most renowned contemporary Czech composers serves to draw our attention to his mastery, imbued with spiritual wealth, offered to the listener not only as beautiful music but also as succour and stimulation.

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Author:Tuzilova, Marta
Publication:Czech Music
Article Type:Sound recording review
Date:Apr 1, 2014
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