Dejan Lazić piano; Stjepan Večković, sopila; The Choir of the Croatian Radio and Television; Tomislav Fačini, choir director; Munich Radio Orchestra; Ivan Repušić conductor
BR KLASSIK BR 900332
The folk music of the Croatian peninsula of Istria often features the sopila – a traditional shawm instrument – as well as choral singing and folk dances set to music rhythmically asymmetrical, some of which is based on the Istrian scale.
The Croatian composer Natko Devčić, one of Croatia’s most important composers and music educators, authored the Istrian Suite for orchestra which uses folk music as a link between late Romanticism and the avant-garde.
The Croatian composer Dejan Lazić’s Concerto in Istrian Style for piano and orchestra is also inspired by Istrian melodies and rhythms, as is his Alterations on the Istrian Folk Hymn. Both are heard here in their world premiere recordings.
The melody of Alterations comes from Draga nam je zemlja, a song composed by Ivan Matetić Ronjgov, which is also heard on this album in two versions: one for two sopile and one for choir.
THE MUSIC and THE PERFORMANCE
Concerto in Istrian Style for Piano and Orchestra op. 18
Alterations on the Istrian Folk Hymn, op. 29
Ivan Matetić Ronjgov
Istrian Folk Anthem: a) version for two sopile; b) version for choir
Istrian Suite (Istarska Suita) for orchestra
Video preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKf1y69UHjA
Dejan Lazić’s playing of his own Concerto in Istrian Style for Piano and Orchestra is as memorable as the music itself. The work opens rhythmically with an overture in which the piano emerges triumphant in a series of exchanges with the orchestra.
A moodily sad second movement the composer titles Intermezzo, alternates hints of dissonance creeping in from the woodwinds, muted brass, and basses while the piano strives to maintain poignancy of melody. The movement starts quietly, builds up, then fades away to silence towards the end.
The third movement – Cadenza ad libitum – begins eerily with a mix of pianissimo figures in the upper register of the piano and massive cluster chords in the bass that are allowed to linger on with the sustaining pedal. Gradually alternating passages of melody and prestissimo restlessness drive the movement forward.
The Canon and Rondo – the work’s fourth movement – conceptually similar to Lazić’s Alterations on the Istrian Folk Anthem – is a series of versions of an Istrian folk melody – now dazzlingly rhythmic, now quietly lyrical.
The final movement is a Finale in which both soloist and orchestra bring Dejan Lazić’s work to a rousing ending. The Croatian composer makes an indelible impression with both his compositions and with his bravura execution of his own work.
The recording also includes two 20th century works by Croatian masters – one, a lively four-movement Istrian Suite, post-Romantic in sensibility and melody by Natko Devčić, the other by the folklorist-composer Ivan Matetić Ronjgov, whose setting of the Istrian Folk Anthem, brings to life a handful of folk flavors in a double setting of the melody, one conceived for a pair of Istrian Sopilas – a double reed wooden instrument akin to an oboe or shawm – the second for choral ensemble.
Throughout the four works included in the BR KLASSIK, Ivan Repušić leads the indispensable Munich Radio Orchestra with firm control of the intricacies of the compositions.
Rafael de Acha (c) 2023
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