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Songs My Mother Taught Me / Magdalena Kozena


Release Date: 04/21/2009 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001279102   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  TraditionalLeos JanácekAntonín DvorákErwin Schulhoff,   ... 
Performer:  Magdalena KozenáMalcolm MartineauMichael FreimuthDorothea Röschmann
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Thoughtful and imaginative.

Magdalena Kožená is currently touring with pretty much this same programme, giving recitals in the biggest halls – the Barbican in London for instance not the Wigmore Hall, which she could doubtless sell out six or seven times over. It’s a measure of her international esteem that she can do so, especially with things such as Novák’s Op.8 Pohádka Srdce and Eben’s Pisn? k Loutn? which are very much not expected fare, and therefore all the more to be valued – both in recital and, as here, on disc.

Back in 2000 she released an all-Czech disc for DG called Love Songs (see review) which included works by Dvo?ák – his Love Songs op.83 - and folk songs by
Read more Janá?ek and Martin?. This latest entrant if anything both expands and deepens the immersion in Bohemian and – given her Brno birthplace – Moravian music. Once again the repertoire will prove enticing for those whose tastes run beyond the mainstream.

She starts with what she admits is a specialised performance of the unaccompanied traditional folksong Kebych bola jahodú in which she colours, contours and shades the voice in a myriad of ways. It’s a deliberately rougher, more ‘authentic’ sounding al fresco and spontaneous sounding affair – or at least that, I assume, is the intent. For all one’s appreciation of her singing though there are some observations to be made later on. The first group of three Janá?ek Moravian folksongs contains Muzikanti which has always seemed to me to be a raucous man’s song. Never mind that though, why the ruinous caesuri that hobble the flow of the song so self-consciously? Both she and Malcolm Martineau manage to impede its gusto brilliantly. Added to which the vocal scoops sound contrived and, dare one say it, ugly. In a song such as this less is surely more – the more you play around with it the more dead you’ll kill it. The pick of the three Dvo?ák Cikánské melodie is No.3 A les je tichy kolem kol which I prefer, as an interpretation, to the ubiquitous Když mne stará matka.

She sings three Schulhoff songs extracted from his Národni pisn? a tance T?šínska reserving a richer, thicker vibrato for them, especially No.15 Když sem byla mamince klin?. But I part company in No.4 Sidej na vuz - a long setting, which finds her in unsettled voice, vibrating too much and obscuring the diction. A native Czech speaker with whom I was listening could barely make out any of the words. It’s a beautiful song though.

The Eben songs are delightful, managing to evoke for example, in the Herrick setting, an English lute song - Michael Freimuth is the eloquent guitarist. Elsewhere there is a scherzo-like and folkloric Jakž sem t? najprv poznal and the limpid reflectiveness of the last of the six, Stratila? sem milého. The Novák songs are rare; they’re early too, being his Op.8. They run from being couched in melancholy late Romanticism to the urgent nature setting of the fourth. The five little songs end with a reflective romance, which embodies a typically beautiful Novák melody line. The Martin? songs are bright, vital little gems, most about a minute long. The wan religiosity of Boží muka is especially delightfully and splendidly conveyed, whilst No.7 Zvolenovci chlapci strikes a rather Janá?ek-like pose. To add to the brew there is an early song by the Viennese inclined Rösler – who may be better remembered these days for his string quartets – and a couple of the Moravian duets elegantly performed by Kožená and Dorothea Röschmann.

A summary then. Very necessary for Novák; less so perhaps Schulhoff admirers if only because we only have a few of the songs; valuable whetting of appetite for Rösler; top drawer Eben cycle excellently realised; very variable Dvo?ák and Janá?ek; wish we could have had more of the Martin?. Above all Kožená here values the selective over the exhaustive. Some of these folkloric cycles are extensive and it would be too much to take them on single-handed. Wisely a modest selectivity is at work.

There are text translations from Czech into English, French and German – except the Eben songs when the composer set the original language texts. The notes are rather skimpy as to the works concerned. Though I’m sometimes frustrated by her singing I nevertheless applaud wholeheartedly the way Kožená promotes her homeland’s music in this thoughtful and imaginative way.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
If I were a strawberry plant by Traditional
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
2.
Moravian folk poetry in Song: no 37, Bench by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1901; Brno 
3.
Moravian folk poetry in Song: no 50, Musicians by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1901; Brno 
4.
Moravian folk poetry in Song: no 12, Sweet Apple by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1901; Brno 
5.
Zigeunermelodien (7), Op. 55: no 4, Als die alte Mutter by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Bohemia 
6.
Zigeunermelodien (7), Op. 55: no 5, Reingestimmt die Saiten by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Bohemia 
7.
Zigeunermelodien (7), Op. 55: no 3, The woods are still by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Bohemia 
8.
Folk Songs and Dances from the Tesin Region: no 3, Out in the beechwood by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
9.
Folk Songs and Dances from the Tesin Region: no 15, On my mother's knee by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
10.
Folk Songs and Dances from the Tesin Region: no 4, Mount the wagon by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
11.
Love Songs (6) by Petr Eben
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Michael Freimuth (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; Czech Republic 
12.
An die Entfernte by Jan Josef Rösler
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: Bohemia 
13.
Story of One Heart, Op. 8 by Vitezslav Novák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
14.
Evening Songs, Op. 3: no 2, I dreamt last night by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
15.
Moravian Duets (9), Op. 32: no 4, The ring by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
16.
Moravian Duets (9), Op. 32: no 6, The maid imprisoned by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
17.
Songs (7) on Moravian folk poetry by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
18.
Silesian Songs: Aj, co to je za slavicek by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
19.
Silesian Songs: V cernym lese by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: Romantic 

Sound Samples

Kebych bola jahodú
Moravská lidová poesie v písních (Moravian Folk Poetry In Songs): 37. Lavecka
Moravská lidová poesie v písních (Moravian Folk Poetry In Songs): 12. Jabúcko
Moravská lidová poesie v písních (Moravian Folk Poetry In Songs): 50. Muzikanti
Ciganské melodie (Gypsy Melodies), Op.55: 4. Songs my mother taught me (Kdyz mne stara matka)
Ciganské melodie (Gypsy Melodies), Op.55: 5. Tune thy strings (Struna naladena)
Ciganské melodie (Gypsy Melodies), Op.55: 3. Silent and lone the woods (Ales je tichy kolem kol)
Národní písne a tance z Tesinksa (Folksongs and Dances from the Tesinskso Region), WV120: 3. Pasala volky [Out in the beechwood]
Národní písne a tance z Tesinksa (Folksongs and Dances from the Tesinskso Region), WV120: 15. Kdyz jsem byla mamince na kline [On my mother's knee]
Národní písne a tance z Tesinksa (Folksongs and Dances from the Tesinskso Region), WV120: 4. Sidej na vuz [Mount the waggon]
Písne K Loutne: 1. Milovánie bez vídánie
Písne K Loutne: 2. I dare not ask
Písne K Loutne: 3. Quand ce beau printemps
Písne K Loutne: 4. Ach Gott, wie weh tut scheiden
Písne K Loutne: 5. Jakz sem te najprv poznal
Písne K Loutne: 6. Stratilat sem milého
An die Entfernte
Pohádka Srdce, Op.8: 1. Písen melancholická
Pohádka Srdce, Op.8: 2. Zda není snem?
Pohádka Srdce, Op.8: 3. Vecer
Pohádka Srdce, Op.8: 4. Podzimní nálada
Pohádka Srdce, Op.8: 5. Az prejde den
Vecerné písne (Evening Songs): 2. Mne zdálo se zes umrela [I dreamt last night]
Moravské dvojzpevy (Moravian Duets): 9. Prsten
Moravské dvojzpevy (Moravian Duets): 11. Zajatá
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 1. Devce z Moravy (Moravian Girl)
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 2. Súsedova stajna (The Neighbour's Stable)
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 3. Nadeje (Hope)
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 4. Hlásný (The Night Watchman)
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 5. Tajná láska (Secret Love)
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 6. Bozi muka (The Wayside Cross)
Písnicky na dve stránky (Songs on two pages, seven songs an Moravian folk poetry): 7. Zvolenovci chlapci (Lads of Zvolyn)
Slezké písne (ze sbírky Heleny Salichové) [Siesian Songs (from Helena Salichová's Collection)]: 7. Aj, co to je za slavicek
Slezké písne (ze sbírky Heleny Salichové) [Siesian Songs (from Helena Salichová's Collection)]: 10. V cernym lese

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