Voices of Brno aka Cantus Moraviae by Milan Paľa

23 January 2019, 17:00
Voices of Brno aka Cantus Moraviae by Milan Paľa

We can often hear the works of contemporary composers connected to Brno in the performances of local ensembles. But it is not usual for them to reach a wider audience, and in that fashion, a relatively inconspicuous recital dedicated to the works of Brno composers took place yesterday at the Brothers of Charity Convent. A much greater level of attention should be raised by the interpreter Milan Paľa. He had, in his own words “decided to do something for Moravian music” and create in the coming years several CD’s mapping the repertoire for violin or viola by composers connected to Moravia. The Cantus Moraviae project already has its first double CD, which was christened at yesterday’s concert.

The recital and the first part of the planned discography was opened by a composition by Miloslav Ištvan, as the metaphoric key-holder to the works of his students. Canto I pro sólovou violu (“Canto Even for the Solo Viola”) from the end of the 70’s – Ištvan’s first monophonic composition – works on an assembly of newly processed motifs from Moravian folk song that repeatedly encounter the predatory introductory theme. Its raw character was enhanced the characteristic, almost powerful performance of Milan Paľa and the dense sound of his instrument, which was blunted by the ceiling arch of the (sadly) half-full auditorium.

Jericho by Pavel Mario Slezák passionately tells of the fall of the battlements of the archaic city being conquered by the Israelites, of the world of today and tomorrow, of the world outside and the one inside us. The fierce twists are anchored by a cyclic repeating (almost Janáček-style) motif and restless long-held string harmonics. The solo artist presented this tale with urgency, tension and remorse, filled with uncertain desire. He stayed fully taken by the present moment, playing all the contrasting musical moods with a fitting feel, without losing control of the instrument. The same tension and concentration emanated from the next composition with the oscillations of Foucault’s pendulum. It, placed in the resounding rotunda in the Flower Garden in Kroměříž, became the motif for Il pendolo by Vít Zouhar. The violinist gave it even more saturation by holding the tone of his own voice with the violin, which resonated throughout the auditorium.

The last composition of the evening was the as yet unpublished single-movement composition Unisoni sacri IV by Pavel Zemek Novák. Its subheading Tremolo serves to underline the frequent and long passages of fluctuating amplitude, which is supposed to remind us of the architecture and acoustics of temple spaces with its melody. The player gave the chilly string harmonics tension and energy up until the last tone. Throughout the whole concert, he kept the audience’s attention, intoned with precision and the fast runs in short notes were fully transparent. The performing bravado of Milan Paľa, his interest in the given topic, the energy and the complete insight into the technique and instrument prove that as a solo player, he is a favourite among audiences and composers alike.

The planned recordings could deepen the public’s knowledge of the gems of Brno musical composition and provide almost a sober musical patriotism. Yesterday’s concert had only one problem – almost no-one knew of it.

Photo by Julian Veverica

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