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Random Thoughts of a Musical Ignoramus, Today Minus the Poison

Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc, April 2015

iDnes, 18.4.2015, Antonín Robin

The Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc, and Barbora Polášková. I made sure to take a good look at the orchestra members. No bruises or blue eyes there, to be sure; apparently there was no one present with whom to fight over her.

Now this might come as a bit of a surprise, as Barbora Polášková happens to be arguably the finest Czech mezzo of our time, one for whom it may actually prove hard to find a peer elsewhere on the world scene. Why, it´s enough to leaf through the reviews where she is cited alternatively as soprano, mezzo, or contralto, knowing that she is in full command of all these voice-range nuances. One shouldn´t forget to add that all across this scale of registers, her voice is equally full-bodied and sparkling. At this point, expert anatomists will probably start to shake their heads, and yet only now will we proceed to name the prime asset of her singing: namely, the fact that Barbora Polášková sings with her heart.

With the Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc, she offered an account of Mahler´s Kindertotenlieder. It may sound unusual, but evidently when Mahler wrote these songs, he must somehow have anticipated that more than a century later it would be none other than Barbora Polášková who would sing them. Gustav Mahler may have been haunted by an underlying streak of hypochondria, as he believed his Songs on the Death of Children to be a composition dictated by fate, and that it caused the death of his four-year-old daughter. Here, the singer carried this message across in crystal-clear manner. The composer´s profound grief at the loss of his child, the pangs of remorse, the feeling that the piece should never have been written – it´s all there, and the fact that this is a masterpiece makes no difference.