Libor Pešek conducts Dvořák's Stabat Mater

The Prague Symphony Orchestra's Dvořák Cycle Vol. V

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Eva Urbanova — Soprano

Katerina Kachlikova — Contralto

Stephan Margita — Tenor

Peter Mikulas — Bass

Prague Symphonic Choir

Pavel Kuhn — Chorus director

Prague Symphony Orchestra

Libor Pešek — Conductor

Program notes

Libor Pešek conducts the Prague Symphony Orchestra in Dvořák's Stabat Mater, a masterpiece marked by the mourning and the pain of the Czech composer.

Born into a humble family settled in Nelahozeves, a village near Prague, Antonín Dvořák left school at the age of 11 to learn his father's trades, butcher and innkeeper. Thankfully, Antonín's precocious musical gifts are quickly noticed, and the young boy is sent to study at his uncles's plance in Zlonice, then to Prague from 1857 onwards. Playing the viola in the Prager Kappelle's orchestra, Dvořák familiarized himself with the classical and contemporary masterworks. Enjoying a well-established reputation from his peers and the internation audience, Dvořák is in his lifetime a Major figure on the musical scene. Invited in Germanay, in France, in the United Kingdom and in the United States, Dvořák eventually went back to his homeland to manage the Conservatory of Pragua. Dvořák, who died in 1904, left a considerable oeuvre which has ever since been performed on the stages worldwide.

It is during a personnaly difficult period of his life that Dvořák devoted himslef to the composition of the Stabat Mater, his first sacred work. Between September 1875 and September 1877, Dvořák lost three of his children: Josefa, Ruzena et Otokar. Affected by grief, the Stabat Mater focuses on the sole four soloists. The orchestra is extremely discreet. A few enigmatic punctuations from the winds, long notes whispered by the strings seem to suspend time in its flow. Like the mysterious introductory octaves, the Stabat Mater seems to explore unfathomable depths, perhaps an emotional emptiness due to the loss of his children.

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