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Ema Destinn: Garden of the Heart (Zahrada srdce)


DNI156   [8595056601568]   digipack  

Twelve songs on poetry and translations of Adolf Wenig composed by the greatest Czech sopranist of the begining of 20 century.

Letní večer (after A. Duerbenfeld) 1:38
Resignace 1:54
K ránu 3:53
Dívčí popěvek (after O. J. Bierbaum) 1:08
Já pozdě našel srdce Tvé 1:52
Námluvy 1:29
V aleji 2:53
Romance 4:46
Poslední slzy 4:20
Svadlé listí 2:34
Vzpomínky (Ema Destinn) 1:59
V mém srdci struna napjata 2:22

Eva Depoltová – soprano
Radoslav Kvapil – piano

Garden of the Heart by Emmy Destinn
The world famous Czech soprano Emmy Destinn (February 26th, 1878, Prague – January 28th, 1930, Budweis) spent twelve seasons at the Court Opera in Berlin, nine seasons at the Met, two seasons at Bayreuth and was the leading primadonna at London’s Covent Garden for 12 years, where, from 1904 to 1919 (excluding the four war years), she made 225 appearances in an extremely varied repertoire including 18 operas. She also received enthusiastic receptions in Paris, Leipzig, Munich, Zurich, Hamburg, Prague, Vienna and Budapest.
Destinn’s experiences as a young violinist, aspiring poet, playwrite and drama student underpinned her extraordinary vocal gifts. These, coupled with an exceptional capacity for hard work, inevitably ensured that she made an impression on the operatic stage. Undoubtedly she was one of the most celebrated and appreciated artists at a time when her colleagues included such luminaries as Caruso, Scotti, Eames, Fremstad, Nordica and Melba. She had a wide range of roles due to her considerable talents. She was a renowned interpreter of leading operatic roles from Mozart to Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, Smetana, Dvorak and Strauss. Despite her great success in opera, it was Destinn‘s close relationship with poetry that endowed her with a special love for Lieder. In her youth she admired songs by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Kienzl and Dvořak, and gave dozens of recitals featuring them, as well as the more standard Lieder repertoire of Schubert and Schumann. With such a plethora of gifts, it is hardly surprising to learn that she also translated selected Lieder into Czech for two printed sheet editions, and two Czech opera libretti into German. She even wrote several originál libretti. Furthermore, she was active in writing novels, commemorations and historical sagas.
Destinn’s personality inspired poets, writers, painters, sculptors and composers. Among the latter, Strauss, Leoncavallo and Puccini all wrote operas for her. Noted Bohemians who composed for her included Vítězslav Novak, Jindřich Jindřich and Karel Kovařovic. She also wrote music herself. During her student years she had composed the waltz That First Love, which became quite popular and was published – achieving four editions. Another of her songs was introduced as an encore for her very first concert at the Prague Rudolfinum on January 2, 1900 when she appeared for the first and only time with the phenomenal Czech violinist Jan Kubelik.
During World War I she was interned at her castle in Straž nad Nežarkou in South Bohemia, which presented further opportunities for composing Lieder. She was captivated by the poems of Adolf Wenig (1874-1940) husband of her cousin Pavla, and wrote settings for several of these. His themes were similar to those of her own poetry from earlier years, namely Verklungene Lieder (Fading Songs), from the first part of her book of poems Sturm und Ruhe (Storm and Calm).
Correspondence between Destinn and Wenig reveals her process of composition while interned at the castle. On August 27, 1916, she wrote from Straž nad Nežarkou: “I like many of your dear verses, and all of those I find suitable, I’ll try to write settings for. It will be slow work as there must be a special mood for it. Melody is a very mysterious thing.” On January 1, 1917, she returned to composition after several months break: “I am occupied by your verses every day. ‘The Faded Leaves’, which I keep in the sweetly sentimental, renunciating and painless mood of A major, with some contrapuntal ornaments, contrasts nicely with the furious mood a la Tchaikovsky of the splenetic song ‘Early Morning’.”
She composed for herself, for her lover, baritone Dinh Gilly, also interned in the same castle, as well as for her sister Jetta (Jindřiška, Henriette). The mode was melancholic, sentimental, often with some Sibyly hidden operatic reminiscences; all melodic and undeniably effective: “One sketch of ‘In the Lane’ is ready (I did not know this poem before; it is undoubtedly one of your best). You could hardly have guessed that I would set it to music! It is not at all long. ‘The Last Tears’ is maybe a little too sentimental, but you will have to excuse me, for the melody can’t be expressed in any other way except according to how the words are felt...The public will love it, not least, because the public loves most of those compositions from which sentimentality simply pours. Thus, let us pour it on.” (Jan. 19, 1917). Later on, the idea of completing an entire song cycle appeared: “Shall I receive some poems again? Nearly everything has been composed already, and Mr. Gilly fell in love with ‘In the Lane’. He sings it to me all the time... Now I am finishing ‘Too Late Did I Find Your Heart’.” (Jan. 23, 1917). Despite being an experienced poet, she valued original authorship. If the need came for more verses, she requested them from the poet rather than creating her own: “For the poem ‘The Last Tears’, I need four lines between the last and penultimate verses. There should be some connecting mood between the Gavotte and the reason for those last tears. You are so mysterious there, and paint an enigmatic picture. What happened to cause the gentleman to remember his last tears with such underlined irony? I really have to advocate in the girl’s favour a little ... so do write some poetic lines in there... only a little, very little...!” (Feb. 9, 1917). Only in one case did she add her own verses to complete the variability of the cycle by using lines from her own nostalgic Memories (From Grandfather’s Diary).
The cycle was finished about halfway through March, 1917: “The songs are ready but require further work. I shall play all of them for you. Now I am looking for a musician who could write them correctly. I shall dictate them into his pen. Everything can be finished within another week.” (March 15, 1917). “I am still searching for somebody who will write them correctly according to my piano or, eventually, one who could make some harmonic corrections or ornaments (four ears hear better than two!) etc., etc. Myself, I am not too used to such work.” (March 27, 1917). Finally, she approached the pianist, conductor and composer Antonin Nademlejnsky and requested him to revise her compositions. “We are working hard together – Mr. Nademlejnsky and I. Seven of the songs are virtually completely ready, according to my intentions. You will be content.” (May 12, 1917).

Destinn introduced her new songs as an impromptu experiment at a recital in April 1918 in Pilsen. Given that Lieder was an art form that she had not studied and that their style was already passe, this premiere was remarkably successful with the public. A further notable concert presentation followed in Prague’s Smetana Hall on June 8, 1918, while yet another significant concert in this series was held in Jindřichův Hradec (in South Bohemia) at the end of that month. However, in contrast to the public’s warm reception, the critics were quite severe and derogatory. A work composed merely as a hobby was judged in comparison to the avant-garde music of the day and criticised for its out-dated romanticism. The reviewers were unable to conceive a Lieder cycle simply as a one-off composition representing the personal musings of its creator, tailored to suit its author’s tastes and vocal abilities. In any case it was unlikely that a single hearing would have revealed all the surprises and details of these compositions. However, Emmy Destinn did not give up on the work. She re-ordered the songs, found a collective name for them – Zahrada srdce (Garden of the Heart) – and had them published in 1919 by the leading Prague editing house of Mojmir Urbanek.
She sang the complete cycle as well as selected songs at concerts in Bohemia and abroad. Dutiny her last tour in the United States she recorded four of these songs for Victor studios in Camden, New Jersey, with an orchestra conducted by Joseph A. Pasternack – Nos.: 4. My Dear Boy Took a Leaf of a Rose and 6. Oh Mother, Dear Mother on November 26, 1919; 8. The Last Tears on December 4, 1919; and 9. Romance on March 26, 1920.
The main credit for this new airing of these songs must go to soprano Eva Děpoltova, who offered her interpretation, with Marian Lapšansky at the piano, on the occasion of a matinee homage to Emmy Destinn, given by the Czech Chamber Music Society on January 22, 2000, at the Liechtenstein Palace in Prague.

Jan Kralík

The Garden of Heart in the Mirror of Time
Emmy Destinn influenced thousands of people through her voice. Thanks to early recording techniques we, too, are able to enjoy the shimmering sound of that irresistibly beautiful instrument. But Destinn also left direct glimpses into her heart which can be divined from the twelve songs composed for poems or translations by Adolf Wenig. The mainly amorous mood of Wenig’s verses resonated powerfully with her own emotions and, together with some external impressions, formed the direct inspiration for these songs. Editor Mojmír Urbanek who issued the printed score for Garden of the Heart in 1919, Destinn’s great fame, assured the temporary success, particularly of those songs she used to sing at her concerts. Her own interpretation of one third of this cycle on gramophone records should be mentioned. If we compare her singing with the printed score, we can see and hear an evident rhythmic freedom, suggested by the text, which she used to make the words more effective and vivid (cf., e. g., the words “Umiram, umiram...” / I’m dying… in No. 8 Romance).
Detailed musical analysis reveals a careful choice of musical keys (major or minor) for different themes. For instance, the pastoral F major introduces the jocular No. 4 Girl’s Tune, melancholic G minor paints the dramatically spacious No. 8 Romance, or the pathetic D-flat major which has been chosen for the final song No. 12 Taut String in My Heart. In spite of the majority of melancholic themes in Wenig’s poems, only three of the songs use a minor key. Otherwise, major keys with “flats” are most frequent (E-flat major and A-flat major twice, F major and D-flat major).
The majority of the songs (nine of twelve) begins with 3/4 time, two songs are in 4/4 and one in 2/4 Metrical irregularities appear often when the dramatic mood of the text requires them. Here are some examples: No. 2 Resignation begins in 3/4 time, but the words “vitr smete jako plevu” (wind will blow it as a husk) are sung in 2/4 time where the fast-moving sixteenth notes call to mind the rapidity of a sudden wind. By contrast, the words “že se jednou rozejdeme” (that we will separate one day) are spread over a 4/4 time, just as they should to illustrate the prolonged time of departing. A yet more complicated time change can be heard in No. 3 Early Morning at the words “Po noci probděle v šilene touze do dne se nevratim již, nemohu zpět...” (After dreamless night, after a time of crazy desire, I do not wish to see daylight - I cannot return...). In contrast with the balladic opening in 3/4 time “Hvězdy už pohasly” (The stars have gone out), the verses in the middle section are interrupted by 1/8 pauses and together with rhythmical variations in repeated words; they paint an unusually exciting dramatic picture. Similar examples could be cited almost endlessly. They witness the great singer’s experience with the sound of sung words.
Some of the melodic fragments may remind listeners of Emmy Destinn’s operatic repertoire. However, whether these reminiscences were intentional or unconscious often impossible to judge. Nonetheless, at least one intention is evident in quoting a short sequence from “E lucevan le stele” (sung by Cavaradossi in Tosca) dutiny the piano postlude to the dramatic No. 8 Romance.
The formal architecture of particular songs corresponds with their mood and theme. No. 1 Summer Night is regularly symmetric in a small dual form with a reprise; No. 2 Resignation has three sections with a short introduction, an onomatopoeic intermezzo and a four-bar conclusion, which – together with the verse „Kde jsou davne lasky vzněty?” (Where has the former glow of love vanished?) – forms the thematic peak of this song. The formal pattern of No. 3 Early Morning is easier to comprehend. After four bars of introduction, soundly based on B minor, a symmetrical sixteen-bar part “A” follows, but it remains fully harmonically open on the dominant. The words “zoře tam krvava vita už den” (red blood of sky welcomes new day) closely correspond with the harmonic development of the melodic line at the end of first eight bars. The word “krvava” (blood) is dramatised here by using the distant lydic mode (according C major) and the words “vita už den” (welcomes the new day) modulating to a major key! The fast eight-bar part (Agitato) is based on the dominant F-sharp major with the return to the tonic key of B minor, where the melodically varied reprise of the first part begins, now modulating into F-sharp major (Piu maestoso). The return of the fast intermezzo opens then the central part “B”, which is broadened to eleven bars and which fixes the key F-sharp minor harmonically. This key, however, is soon abandoned, and with the words “Po noci probděle” (After a dreamless night) it converts by chromatic progression through the third key to the dominant of the tonic key B-minor: “v šilene touze” (crazy desire). This harmonic return is only temporary because the modulation of the next words, “do dne se nevratim již, nemohu zpět” (I do not wish see daylight, I cannot return...), confirms, by using the key F-sharp minor, that any return is impossible even in tonal form! When the theme changes, “V slunečnim jasu, hle” (In the sunshine, see), the harmony essentially changes the singing line culminating in its melodic peak with the words “plamenek svičky” (the flame of a candle) and it sinks at “pomalu svad’” (it faded slowly). Like an unexpected wind, a new, fast-moving intermezzo appears, which streams into melodic declamation at the words “Jedine dechnuti razem jej zhasi” (One breath will suddenly fade it) as well as modulating into the main key, B minor. The closing reprise (Maestoso) opens in the new key G-sharp minor. Coordination with the words “Novy den svita tam” (A new day will rise for us) is surprisingly consistent here. And similar constancy comes with the chromatic modulation on the closing words “Půjdu již spat.” (I’ll go to sleep).
The next song, No. 4 Girl’s Tune, is composed in a small three-part form, “A-B-A”. The first part rises from a rhythmically fresh two bars, where the first bar is enlivened by a motive using sixteenth notes. The same rhythmic pattern is used in the central part too, but in mirror form. The reprise remains without any text, simply vocalizing the syllable “la”. Before the very end, this vocalization is broadened by two added bars which bring the song to its true culmination. This short song, with a really fine and fresh melody, using a rare sequence of two fourths in the second bar, offers a welcome contrast to the previous melancholic songs. The poet Adolf Wenig found the theme for it in a short poem by Otto Julius Bierbaum.
No. 5 Too Late I Found Your Heart is also in a three-part form. The excited confession of love finds its expression in passionate music with powerful reminiscences of other sources. The effective conclusion “mam Tě rad” (I love you) should be held over the whole coda, as if the last word was flying over the sea.
No. 6 Wooing alludes to a folk song with two contrasting parts. Against the melodic eight bars, there are four contrasting fast, rough and brusque bars with a short ending. The third part is transposed one key higher, so that the song ends unconventionally in an entirely different key.
It would be possible to analyze every song to reveal something new and surprising. In each, we could find some uncliched harmonic solutions, some melodic arches or separation of melodic elements, informal patterns of songs or special attention paid to the accompaniments. All these details are closely bound with the text. Although we do see occasional limitations of the poems in their salon style, they nevertheless possess qualities which are, to some extent, independent of the era. They can be appreciated even in our time, not only as a welcome challenge to new singers but also as offering a rewarding opportunity to prove the enduring qualityof this unique work which reveals the hidden depths at the heart of this great Czech singer.

Zdeněk Zahradnik

Eva Děpoltová
– leading soprano of both the National Theatre and State Opera in Prague, graduated from the Academy of Music Arts in Prague studying under baritone Zdeněk Otava. The peak of her career was markedly influenced by consultations with Elena Obraztsova and Zdenka Ziková. She further developed her art with the help of conductor Bohumil Gregor.
While still a student, Děpoltová made her debut in one of the most demanding roles of the Czech repertoire, Milada in Dalibor by Smetana, in the city of Ústí nad Labem. The role with which she graduated was Mařenka in The Bartered Bride on the stage of the National Theatre in Prague.
During the time of her engagement in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia, she studied and sang the most demanding roles of the international repertoire: Milada, Mařenka, Tosca, Aida, Káťa Kabanová, Rusalka, Julie, Abigail, Turandot, Lady Macbeth, etc., which opened her way to stages abroad. Her excellent technique enabled her to sing Tosca and Violetta as well as Milada and Mařenka at the same time. After successful guest performances as Turandot, Rusalka and Lady Macbeth, the National Theatre in Prague became her home stage. Děpoltová widened her repertoire there with another series of remarkable creations. Among others, the main new roles were Elizabeth (Don Carlos), Leonora (La Forza del Destino and Il Trovatore) and Violetta by Verdi; Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Soeur Angelica and Manon Lescaut by Puccini; Leonora by Beethoven; Donna Anna, Countess and Fiordiligi by Mozart; Milada, Libuše, Krasava, Mařenka, Anežka and Vendulka by Smetana; Rusalka, Armida, Julie by Dvořák, etc. In the State Opera Prague, she sang Turandot, Aida, Tosca, Desdemona, Abigail among others.
Abroad, Eva Děpoltová scored repeated successes on tour as Donna Anna and Countess in Japan and at festivals in Savonlinna, Athens and Thesaloniki. Some of her international appearances also include Frankfurt (Mařenka), Düsseldorf (Violetta), Budapest (Manon Lescaut), Moscow, Cagliari and Luxemburg (Milada), Wiesbaden (Káťa Kabanová and Vendulka), Warsaw (Tosca), the Open Air Festival Gars am Kamp (Abigail), Paris (Vendulka and Abigail), Taipei (Desdemona), Detmold, Istanbul and Tehran (Turandot), Freiburg (Rusalka), the Salzburger Festspiele in Dvořák´s Requiem, the Vienna Musikverein in the Glagoliti Mass by Janáček, the Festival de La Chaise-Dieu in the 2nd Symphony by Mahler, Vienna in Gilgamesh by Martinů, etc.
As a frequent guest of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, she often performed in Prague as well as on tour in Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Japan in Stabat Mater and the Requiem by Dvořák, the Glagoliti Mass by Janáček, Beethoven‘s 9th Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem, Judith by Honegger, and in the cantata From the Diary of Anne Frank by Morawetz.
Eva Děpoltová has collaborated with well known conductors such as Jiří Bělohlávek, Bohumil Gregor, Zdeněk Košler, Jiří Kout, Ondrej Lenárd, Charles Mackerras, Václav Neumann, Libor Pešek, and others. She has performed with notable orchestras such as the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Slovak Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, Prague Symphony Orchestra, The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Brno Philharmonic, and others.
On January 1, 2000, she sang the title role in a ceremonial performance of Libuše by Smetana on the opening night of the project “Prague – European Capital of Culture for 2000”. She sang Donna Anna for the 200th anniversary of the world premiere of Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre Prague. She was also given the honor to sing Krasava in Libuše at opening night for the 100th anniversary of the National Theatre in Prague.
Czech television captured her as Milada, Libuše, Krasava and Donna Anna in live broadcast performances. Her many Czech radio recordings include Lady Macbeth, Leonora (Il Trovatore), Mélisande and a live broadcast of Verdi’s Requiem should be mentioned.
Eva Děpoltová has recorded for Supraphon, taking on the leading soprano roles in complete recordings of Don Giovanni, Dalibor, The Kiss, Libuše, The Cunning Peasant, Šárka, Eva, The Latern, Greek Passion and The Miracle of Our Lady, which has been awarded by l’Union de la Presse Musicale Belge “Prix Caecilia”.

Radoslav Kvapil
– leading Czech pianist and piano teacher, Kvapil graduated at the Janáček Academy of Musical Arts in Brno in the class of Ludvík Kundera. His solo concerts around Europe, including the Royal Albert Hall and The Barbican in London and Théâtre des Champs Élysées and Auditorium de Louvre in Paris, formed the foundation of his career. He has appeared in nearly fifty countries around the world, including Israel, South Korea and Japan, and in twenty-six states of the United States of America, most notably at Carnegie Hall in New York. In addition to these activities, he first taught piano in Kroměříž (Moravia), then briefly at the Brno Janáček Academy and for a long time at the Conservatory in Prague (Bohemia). He also led master classes at musical academies in London, Paris, Stockholm, Helsinki, Dresden, Tel Aviv, New York and Chicago. He won high appreciation for his support of the neglected Czech piano works, which he studied, performed and recorded. These included the first complete gramophone sets of all piano works by Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek and by Antonín Dvořák for Supraphon. He made two independent recordings of complete piano works by Leoš Janáček for Panton and for French ADDA, and an eight-CD anthology of piano compositions by Czech composers such as Bedřich Smetana, Zdeněk Fibich, Josef Suk a Bohuslav Martinů for the British label Unicorn-Kanchana. Recently, the label Alto-Musical Concepts (New York) announced the issue of a twelve CD set which includes two CDs recorded by ACCORD (Paris) of works by Antonín Dvořák, performed by Radoslav Kvapil on the original Bösendorfer piano made in 1879. This was Dvořák’s own property and is now in the Dvořák Museum in Prague. Radoslav Kvapil has also recorded a CD including piano compositions by Schumann, Liszt and Schubert and the complete 27 Etudes by Chopin. All these works, together with those by Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart, he has played at numerous recitals all over the world.
Among his numerous awards, possibly the highest was the French title Chevalier dans l’Orde des Arts et des Lettres which was bestowed on him in 2002. Radoslav Kvapil is also an important organizer of musical activities. He became the President of The International Antonín Dvořák Society, and, in 2008, was elected President of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA).

© Studio Svengali, December 2023
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