September 07, 2023

‘Folk Songs’ – Folk-Inspired Song Cycles From Across The Globe

Pentatone releases Folk Songs, together with Magdalena Kožená, the Czech Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, in October 2023.

Kaleidoscope Of Twentieth-Century Songs Across The Globe

Magdalena Kožená’s fourth Pentatone album Folk Songs brings together folk-inspired song cycles from across the globe. Ranging from Berio’s Folk Songs to sets by Bartók, Ravel and Montsalvatge, this collection provides a kaleidoscope of twentieth-century orchestral song composition. Kožená performs them together with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.

Folk Songs is star mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená’s fourth album as part of her exclusive collaboration with Pentatone, after having presented the baroque cantatas recital album Il giardino dei sospiri and the songs in chamber-musical setting project Soirée in 2019, as well as Nostalgia together with Yefim Bronfman in 2021. Sir Simon Rattle conducts the world’s greatest orchestras and, since 2019 has returned annually to conduct the Czech Philharmonic. He made his recording debut as pianist on Pentatone alongside Magdalena Kožená on Soirée (2019). In 2022-23 Rattle and Magdalena Kožená were the Czech Philharmonic Artists in Residence. The Czech Philharmonic is one of the world’s orchestral gems, recognised for its rich tradition with the Czech masters as well as European repertoire.  Since 2022, the orchestra has released Mahler’s Fourth, Fifth, Second and First Symphony on Pentatone as part of a complete Mahler cycle to appear on the label.

Folk songs accompanied my entire childhood. My mum used to sing them while cooking or ironing and during our summer holiday evenings we often replaced watching television with sitting down in the kitchen together with my sister and our grandparents, learning new melodies from them and improvising second, third voices. Every village in Moravia where I grew up had its own tunes and folk poetry and this art form is still present today at many feasts, weddings, funerals or just at ordinary visits to a wine cellar.

Even though I have not chosen any music of my country for this particular recording, I still feel a special connection with each of the songs despite the wide range of their origins and ever so different and unique musical language and approach of each composer to their arrangements. There is something indescribably fundamental, profound, and instinctive when it comes to passing love and care from one generation to another.

Folk songs speak about everyday life, they teach us stories from the past and the morals resulting from them. Every emotion feels real, be that deep sadness, tenderness of a mother with her child or a joke about somebody arriving late to a wedding and is therefore only left with frog`s bottoms to chew on.

I think it is essential that folksongs remain an inseparable part of our cultural heritage and I hope you will be inspired by them and love them as much as I do.

Magdalena Kožená

Digital Release Date: 13 OCTOBER 2023

Physical Release: OCTOBER 2023

Released as 1 CD and in digital formats for streaming and high-resolution downloads.