Wednesday, March 28, 2012: Simply, C
Jiří Kadeřábek is a young Czech musician you should get to know, especially if you don’t particularly care for contemporary or new music.
Or even if you do.
For Mr K seems to work very hard – and yet effortlessly – at making his music and his ideas user-friendly. For example, his composition commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Symphony Orchestra last year is not some pompous work or, just the opposite, some confusing collection of cacophanies. No, it’s simply called C. And C simply builds on the first note you probably learned on the piano or started with to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” His composition starts on a low C and then climbs right up the scale. You can even hum along. Then it continues up and up, finally opening up and out into a light, airy sound.
For another thing, Mr Kadeřábek has one of the clearest, most attractive, and yet informative classical music websites we’ve seen (thanks, he tells us, to his webmeister brother). You can listen to excerpts of several of his compositions there (for free) and read his own, interesting ideas about each piece – in down-to-earth Czech or English. His website photos are beautiful, fun, and interesting; he doesn’t yield to the common temptation to include outdated photos, or those which typically make musicians look like they’re made of wax.
Moreover, the Zlín-born composer seems happy and eager to share his thoughts on the upcoming world premiere of his Adagio and Fugue, which will be performed Apr 4 at The Rudolfinum with its commissioner, the Prague Philharmonia.
As he tells Opus Osm, the new piece is his next attempt to leave his previous new-music techniques – and, let’s face it, in general many people find new music discomforting. He promises “no interrupting of style and structural unity; no integrating of whole sections of music of different genres and historical periods, or use of various media or strong non-musical contexts.” Instead, he tells Opus Osm, his goal is “a sort of ‘new conservatism.’ It does not refer to the Classic-Romantic era, but still excludes extended [unconventional] instrumental techniques so often to be found in contemporary music of the last decades.”
He admits there are parallels between Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue and his own, “not just [in] the title, but also the basic structure, extent, and partly the style of the piece.” Another intentional inspiration in Mr Kadeřábek’s 8-1/2 minute composition, he says, is the Moravian folk tune Nocleh po Smrti (Deathbed), which he had also worked in to his piano sonata written several years ago. “The folk tune beautifully varies between major and minor tonality, and includes typical Moravian syncopated rhythm,” he explains.
Mr Kadeřábek studied composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, and Columbia University, New York. He’s won a raft of composition competitions, and his works have been commissioned and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Berg Orchestra, and many others.
Not a bad collection of honors for someone who began his post-secondary education at a business high school. You can see how it all fits together at his world premiere Apr 4. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Jiří Kadeřábek website