The second of the accompanying folk concerts of the Janáček Brno festival took place at the Reduta Theatre. And it seems that the bar, set by the first concert, has remained high. The show, called Chodníčky k lidové písni (“Roads to folksong”) was to present one of Janáček’s favourite regions in Slovácko – Horňácko – to the audience. This job was taken on by a cimbalom band with the fitting name of Musica Folklorica.
The band changed from its usual artistically stylised form to a style more resembling its folk forebears several times during the evening. It was evident that the musicians have a hard time getting used to the authentic expression, so they invited guests for whom this method is natural.
The first of them was paradoxically the actor Ivan Urbánek, who doesn’t come from Horňácko, but has a deep relationship with the region and often returns there. Right in the second entry, he played the gajdy (bagpipes) and later sang with two genuine Horňáks. He, Jan Jagoš and Pavel Zemčík presented several songs, first only with this antique instrument and then in the oldest musical ensemble with the violin and contra. Their performance was pure and created a good atmosphere right from the start, which stayed to the end of the programme.
Another pleasant and actually regular guest of the band was the women’s choir Oskoruša. The ladies have the typical Horňák vocal expression, which is often almost delicate compared to the men. One song was also sung by Sára Slováková, who performed in the ceremonial outfit in the role of the bride.
The last woman to regularly touch the hearts of folk audiences with her velvet voice was Veronika Malatincová. She didn’t fail to amaze, for example with the songs Dybych já veděla and Šohajíčku čí si. These were presented also with a recording of Janáček’s compositions they inspired. The former comes from the cycle Moravská lidová poezie v písni (“Moravian folk poetry in song”), while the latter was used by Leoš Janáček in his first string quartet, the Kreutzer Sonata.
This dramaturgical idea together with several others that appeared throughout the evening, was already been used four years ago in the show Krojů oheň písní náruživost at the Horňácké slavnosti and then in the Mahen Theatre on the 160th anniversary of Janáček’s birth.
However, the greatest stars of the programme were undoubtedly the two leaders and brilliant singers. The first of them, Martin Hrbáč, presented Horňácko itself, while the second was the descendant of legendary Samko Dudík and guest from neighbouring Slovakian Myjava: Miro Dudík. Both men exuded an energy seemingly ignoring their age and enjoyed the evening, which of course translated also onto the audience.
The whole show was presented fully professionally by Martin Prachař, who is also a brilliant singer from Velká nad Veličkou – the centre of Horňácko. His vocal style isn’t very usual for this region, but that is precisely why it is worth noticing.
The evening of folk was a great experience for all listeners, even those completely ignorant of the genre. Which is in my view ideal in the case of an accompanying programme to a festival of artificial music, the polar opposite of folk. A celebration of one of the great composers of this land done in a way himself would have enjoyed. We can only wait and look forward to what the organisers of the Janáček Brno 2018 festival will prepare for us next time.