Šárka – Overture
Zdeněk Fibich’s three symphonies project very different qualities: No. 1 (available on 8.572985) prizes structural integration, and No. 2 (8.573157) cyclical unity. Symphony No. 3, written only two years before his untimely death, but at the zenith of his powers as one of the Czech Lands’ leading composers, reveals Fibich’s sustained melodic and atmospheric powers as the music pursues the ‘darkness to light’ trajectory synonymous with the symphony during the 19th century. The remaining pieces, drawn from his best stage works, showcase operatic qualities that extend the dramatic lineage of Smetana. This is the final volume in this series.
Born on December 21, 1850, in Seborice, Zdeněk Fibich is one of the better-known 19th-century Czech composers. He studied in Prague under Frederico Smetana, then in Leipzig and Paris. Inspired as much by Czech subjects as by international, he composed the very first symphonic poem based on Czech legend entitled Zaboj, Slavoj and Ludek. Fibich was also the first to use a polka in place of a scherzo in a string quartet. Among his major influences were Dvorak, Brahms, Schumann and Wagner. Fibich was also greatly influenced by Smetana, although he began work on his nationalist tone poem cycle a year before Smetana began writing Ma Vlast.
Among his most-loved works are the opera trilogy Hippoamie and the perfect example of his gift with melody, his Moods, Impressions, and Reminiscences, written for piano. In 1897, Fibich composed his final and most-performed opera, Sarka. Fibich died in 1900 in Prague.
A renowned symphony orchestra, the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava boasts a long tradition, typical Czech sound, and progressive repertoire that has been acclaimed by audiences and critics worldwide. The orchestra gives first-class performances not only in its interpretations of the works of its namesake Leoš Janáček, but also of other composers from the late Romantic period to the present. The orchestra was founded in the first half of the 20th century when eminent musicians such as Paul Hindemith, Sergey Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky arrived in Ostrava. The orchestra has been conducted by Michail Jurowski, Vassily Sinaisky, Antoni Wit, Krzysztof Penderecki, Christian Arming, and Łukasz Borowicz.
Marek Štilec began his musical studies on the violin at the Prague Conservatory and studied conducting with Leoš Svárovský at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Štilec is an alumnus of the International Järvi Academy and Jac van Steen’s Emerging Conductors Series, and has participated in the masterclasses of Michael Tilson Thomas and Jorma Panula, among others. He conducts a wide range of leading orchestras, including the New World Symphony, the Ulster Orchestra, Das Kurpfälzische Kammerorchester Mannheim, the Wiener Concertverein Orchester, the Orchestra of the Swan, the London Classical Soloists, the Berlin Camerata, the Kammerphilharmonie Graz and Sinfonietta Bratislava, as well as the top orchestras in the Czech Republic.
– MusicWeb International
– American Record Guide