Josef Marek he started his musical career as a singer, which is perhaps why he understands the human voice so well. But writing for the voice means understanding not only its possibilities, but also the depths of the human soul. And Josef Marek is very good at that. He is the author of a number of solo and choral compositions, and last but not least, melodramas. In interpreting them, he collaborates with a number of leading Czech actors and musicians, and the range of themes in his melodramas points to Marko’s wide education and literacy – from antiquity to the Renaissance to the present day. He chooses remarkable texts from a wide range of genres. His melodramas draw inspiration from the wisdom of ancient proverbs, poetic texts, the analysis of the human interior in the case of dramatic texts by Shakespeare or Chekhov, up to the tabloids, which can ridicule and defeat him with their own weapons.
Even at the jubilee concert, works for the human voice formed a significant part of the repertoire. But he was introduced by the solemn fanfare of his colleagues and the chairman Society of Czech composers Zdenek Zahradník. Then followed one of Mark’s most beautiful melodramas, a confession of love for life Vox mea to the text of a poem by Vilém Závada for reciter, soprano, flute and piano.
Thematically, the composition followed it Homines sumus, non Dei for mezzo-soprano, flute and piano inspired by the verses of ancient authors Ovid, Publilius Syrus and Virgil. The concert program closed with a comprehensive melodrama processing a lyrical and bitterly dramatic monodramatic confession Swan song Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Under the title Last night the author intended it for recitator, mezzo-soprano, flute, violin, cello and piano. It is a deep probe into the interior of the actor, with whom the composer experiences his fame, disappointment, skepticism, loneliness and reconciliation.
Mark’s compositions never merely illustrate the text, but can see beneath the meaning of the words and transform their intimate content into the language of music with the appropriate urgency. And very rich music, working abundantly and cleverly with references and ranging from so-called classical music to jazz, klezmer or chanson inspiration. And above all, the human voice as a reflection of the psychological depth and individuality of each being.
The concert presented selections from the works of Josef Marko in an attractive and masterly manner. It just could have been longer, because in his case there is really a lot to choose from. The performers – especially the actor – played a large part in the success of the evening Jaromir Meduna, who has been dedicated to melodrama for years and can empathically capture the specifics of each work. The soprano attracted attention with her beautiful voice and experienced speech Lucie Svačinková and a mezzo-soprano Kristina Kubovaa pianist no less Daniel Wiesnerflutist Václav Kunta violinist Pavla Roubíčková Franců and cellist Pavel Chovanec. It was really a very nice evening. Next time, we would like to listen to Mark’s other works, for example from numerous choral compositions. And it doesn’t have to be just for the anniversary.
Society of Czech Composers: Jubilee Concert
October 2, 2023, 7:00 p.m
rectory of the church of St. Vojtěch
Josef Marek: Vox mea – concert melodrama based on the text of Vilém Závady’s poem Živote, thank you
Josef Marek: Homines sumus, non Dei
Josef Marek: The Last Night – a concert melodrama based on a dramatic study in 1 act AP Chekhov’s Swan Song
Pavel Chovanec – cello
Kristina Kubová – mezzo-soprano
Václav Kunt – flute
Jaromír Meduna – recitation
Pavla Roubíčková Franců – violin
Lucie Svačinková – soprano
Daniel Wiesner – piano