“Pohádka” (“Fairytale”) – Leoš Janáček

by richibi

"Fairy Lake" - Martiros Saryan

Fairy Lake (1905)

Martiros Saryan


for the recital season coming up,
my friend, the musicologist, has
once again been called upon to
write reviews of featured pieces

out of giddy exhilaration at his
playful essays, he sent me
several draughts he’d already
composed around piano and
cello pieces, of mostly familiar
enough faces, Schumann,
Beethoven, Strauss, but of Leoš
I’d only heard mention,
none ever of his compositions

his Pohádka“, or Fairytale“, is
a programmatic piece, which
means it accompanies a story,
like a soundtrack does a movie,
but Pohádka is based on a tale
of Vasily Zhukovsky, a Russian
epic poet, and is not accompanied
by a film, nor a ballet for that
matter – see “The Nutcracker” or
“Sleeping Beauty” for that – but
lives and breathes on its own

Kashchei, Lord of the Underworld,
objects to the union of his daughter
with a charming prince, represented
here by the piano and the cello

they run away and find refuge with
another potentate who prefers the
prince for his own daughter, and
casts a spell on him so that the
prince may love her, instead of
Maria, the princess, which he does

Maria, forsaken, in a pique at this
turn of events, turns into a blue

o, to turn into a blue flower
whenever I’m in a pique, I thought,
I only wish, and succumbed
forthwith to the improbable story

the spell is lifted, however, from
both, of course, however much I
might prefer to remain a blue iris,
say, anemone, or hyacinth, when a
magician, don’t ask, turns up to
set everything aright, and they
live happily ever after

the version you’ll hear is
transposed for piano and double
bass, a somewhat deeper, thrilling
register, or that may be just the
bassist, but the magic entirely
remains, if it isn’t completely
enhanced, rendered definitive
by this superb performance

my friend says Janáček has
neither musical forebears, nor
descendants, but composes in
a world of his own, an utterly
enchanted world, I surmised

what do you think

listen, just click



“con moto”, by the way, means
“with conviction”