Pavel Novák (b.1957) 24 Preludes and Fugues (1989-2006)
(Duration 75’ - or can be performed in shorter sections)
Reviews amd Programme Notes
"Extraordinary...a real discovery" BBC Music Magazine October 2011
‘One of the most impressive piano works of recent times’ London Review of Books September 2006
‘At every moment one is conscious of the richly inventive imagination of a truly original musical mind’ Tempo Autumn 2003
Pavel Novák, also known as Pavel Zemek, was born in 1957 in Brno, Janáček’s home town. One of the most individual and distinctive Czech composers of his generation, Novák has written a large body of symphonic, choral, chamber and instrumental works that reflect both his devout religious faith and his interest in Moravian folk traditions. Among his most significant works is his Symphony No.2 (St. John Passion), which won a Janáček Foundation prize in 1998. His Symphony No.3 for solo piano and string orchestra was premiered at the 2005 Dartington International Summer School, which commissioned a further work for soprano, trumpet and organ, premiered in 2007. He has written several important works for the Schubert Ensemble, including a piano quintet, Royal Funeral Procession on Iona (1995), and a piano quartet Marian Variations (2000). His 24 Preludes and Fugues, based on the Bible, were written for William Howard over a 17-year period and reflect the evolution of the composer’s musical language during this time. They form a challenging 80-minute cycle, which has been described by composer David Matthews as ‘one of the most impressive piano works of recent times’. Novák’s fugues display a novel and powerful approach to the old Baroque form, being mostly free from counterpoint. The cycle starts with distinct and unconnected pieces, but strives increasingly towards a unity of form as it develops, while at the same time revealing the composer’s growing interest in unison and consonance in his compositional language. Scattered throughout the Preludes and Fugues are homages to Schütz, Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert.
The 24 Preludes and Fugues were given their first complete performance by William Howard Written for William Howard at the Brno Conservatoire, Czech Republic in September 2007. He gave the UK Premiere at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London in December 2007