May 09, 2024

Magdalena Kožená’s Sixth Exclusive PENTATONE Album: ‘Czech Songs’

PENTATONE releases Czech Songs, together with Magdalena Kožená, the Czech Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, in June 2024.

A Journey Through Czech Song

Magdalena Kožená presents a recital of Czech songs, together with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.

The first impression of Czech songs may be atmospheric nature scenes, or stories about pretty peasant girls and village pranks, but the selection on this album demonstrates that the imagination of Czech song composers stretched far wider. For example, Bohuslav Martinů’s Nipponari were inspired by Japanese culture, whereas his folksy Songs on One Page obtain a deeper meaning knowing that he wrote them in the US, having fled the Nazi threat. His colleagues and contemporaries Hans Krása and Gideon Klein did not manage to get away, and both died in concentration camps. Krása’s German-language Four Orchestral Songs show a fascination with nonsense verse typical of avant-garde circles in the early 1920s. Klein’s Lullaby can be traced back to Jewish folk songs, yet its musical realization displays an openness to French musical styles. And no Czech song recital would be complete without good old Antonín Dvořák, whose Evening Songs and Songs, Op. 2 are included.

Many of these works are best known with piano accompaniment, but are presented here in orchestrations. The Czech Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle marvellously bring out all the colours, while Kožená once more showcases her mastery in vernacular song.

Czech Songs is star mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená’s sixth 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 and the title role of Handel’s Alcina together with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre in 2024. The current album was preceded by Folk Songs (2023), on which she also joined forces with the Czech Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle. Rattle conducts the world’s greatest orchestras and, since 2019 has returned annually to conduct the Czech Philharmonic, of which he will become Principal Guest Conductor as of the 24/25 season. 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 Symphonies on PENTATONE as part of a complete Mahler cycle to appear on the label.

“Singing pieces by composers from my homeland in my own language feels so natural and familiar that I feel it draws from me a deep emotional connection which in turn broadens my horizons and brings new dimensions to the performances recorded here. It never ceases to amaze me, just how wide-ranging in musical style Czech music can be and it has been a real pleasure to prepare this small “tasting menu” for you all. Needless to say, I am both happy and privileged to have been able to share this unique experience with the Czech Philharmonic orchestra and my husband, Simon Rattle. I cannot imagine receiving more devoted support or a higher level of understanding than from this particular team.”

Magdalena Kožená

Digital Release Date7 JUNE 2024

Physical Release: JUNE 2024

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