The Mystery of Time by Miloslav Kabeláč: A New Recording by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra with conductor Marko Ivanović
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra presents a new recording of this underratted gem of 20th century European symphonic music under the conductorship of Marko Ivanović.
Miloslav Kabeláč, one of the greatest Czech symphonists of the 20th century accentuates, in both his life and his work, a very relevant theme: intransigence against evil and devotion to humanistic ideals. He demonstrated both during the Nazi occupation and the communist dictatorship. During the most severe totalitarianism the composer escaped internally from the ideological grip of the regime by gazing fascinated at the starry sky. In Mystery of Time, one of the underrated gems of 20th century European symphonic music, he speaks of his emotional thrill and awe he feels in the face of cosmic events, in the face of the greater order that governs over everything.
On 23 September 2022 the Supraphon label in cooperation with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marko Ivanović released a new album of Kabeláč's compositions. In addition to the aforementioned Mystery of Time, the recording also includes Hamlet Improvisation for Large Orchestra Op. 46, which Kabeláč wrote for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, we well as Reflections Op. 49 and Metamorphoses of the Second Chorale Lord Have Mercy on Us Op. 58, which Kabeláč completed as his last works just a few weeks before his death. They are both inspired by the oldest Czech sacred hymn Hospodine, pomiluj ny, a prayer that symbolically ends with a triple krleš (Kyrie eleison, a key prayer of Christian liturgy). The album Mystery of Time is a follow-up to the successful set of Kabeláč's Symphonies (Supraphon 2016) and adds further eminence to the remarkable picture of Kabeláč the symphonist.
In the words of conductor Marko Ivanović, Mystery of Time is composed as one giant dramatic arc that needs to be built up in tempo and dynamics. However, as impressive as Mystery of Time is for the listener, it is a very demanding and physically strenuous piece for the orchestra. Over the years, however, Kabeláč's musical language has become "distilled" and so in his later works such as Metamorphoses, we get to the heart of the artistic message. The concise and succinct treatment of the chorale Lord, Have Mercy on Us can thus be seen as the composer's epitaph which sounds all the more powerful when compared to Mystery of Time written decades earlier.
For a preview of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra's take on the piece and for more information about the composition, check out this short teaser video.
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