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Olomoucký deník - Tribute to Gustav Mahler, Concert review, April 2011

Olomoucký deník daily newspaper, 5.4.2011, David Kaňovský

Artists in Concert Paying Tribute to Gustav Mahler

A concert in tribute to Gustav Mahler took place in the Corpus Christi Chapel of Palacký University Art Centre in Olomouc, on Wednesday, March 30. A soloist of the Moravian Theatre opera company, mezzosoprano Barbora Polášková, accompanied by pianist Milada Jehličková, appeared in a programme from song cycles of Vítězslava Kaprálová, Alma Mahler, Jan Vičar, and Gustav Mahler.

The evening was opened by the cycle, Selected Songs, from the pen of Vítězslava Kaprálová, an outstanding woman composer of the first half of the 20th century. A set of five songs in which the composer succeeded in capturing on a very small scale the inner atmosphere of the individual texts, was rendered by Ms Polášková in a highly expressive manner, yet at the same time with the utmost sensitivity. Perhaps the only minor reservation would concern a touch of unease felt on some of the singer´s high notes.

The second part of the concert featured the song cycle by Gustav Mahler´s wife, Alma Mahler, entitled Sämtliche Lieder. The cycles´s six numbers proved the perfect match for Barbora Polášková´s thoroughly natural and at the same time distinctly individual voice. Her deeply felt account of the series brought to surface the ardent emotion with which Alma wrote her songs. ...

After the intermission came the time for Jan Vičar´s cycle of Four Songs to the words of Jiří Žáček. ... The playful combination of Jiří Žáček´s verse with a melodious vocal line and modern piano accompaniment gave rise to a fresh song cycle whose performance by the two interpreters ushered into the chapel´s interior an atmosphere of serene joy.

The concert´s final part bore the hallmark of its title, with the rendition of Gustav Mahler´s song cycle, Kindertotenlieder. The “Songs of Dead Children” is a solemn, even sorrowful collection, in whose musical element the composer manifested a touch of genius in linking the various song lines whose vocal and instrumental components are intertwined in an indivisible whole. Ms Polášková made a virtually flawless display of her velvety-hued voice in getting across Mahler´s yearning. Moreover, here even the high notes were rendered with all due brilliance, without the least sign of falter.

The concert as a whole deserves praise as an outstanding occasion. Both interpreters performed with impeccable co-ordination, the result being a rare evening of musical delight. This was a tribute to Mahler in the truest sense of the term.