The road between Vienna and Prague, taken in 1787 by the 31-year-old Mozart so as to attend the premiere of his opera Don Giovanni, was familiar to a number of other musicians. It was a journey they made in both directions, often with the vision of attaining a better life at the other end. The Czech songs dating from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, which form the axis of the present album, may be a revelation for many a listener - as may be the fact that Czech composers mainly set to music German and Italian texts. This could in part have been down to the boom of the German song for home music-making (and the associated publishing business), as well as the mass distribution of keyboard instruments in the 1780s. According to J. W. Goethe, the ability to play the piano was one of the qualities of well-bred young women that increased their chances of finding a good match ... Leopold Koželuch was one of Vienna's most successful song composers, and, owing to, among other things, his diplomatic skills, he even eclipsed the bright star of Mozart. The Prague-based composer F. A. Rösler, whose songs are often indistinguishable from those of Mozart's, did his utmost to preserve Mozart's legacy following his death. And similarly to Rösler, V. J. Tomášek, who too remained faithful to Prague, possessed a refined literary taste, as duly reflected in his selection of the texts for his songs. The recording captures Martina Janková's engrossing voice, replete with vitality, innocence, vigour and lightness, which so becomes the Mozart repertoire. Under the hands of Barbara Maria Willi, the bright and colourful sound of the one and only preserved fortepiano built by F. J. Baumeister (1797) will be for many yet another surprise and discovery on this musical odyssey.
The previously untraced journeys of Czech songs between Mozart's Prague and Vienna.
“Faut-il s'étonner que Martina Janková se meuve avec une discrétion magnifique, sourire et mélancolie réunis, dans ces diversités atmosphériques? Bénédiction que ce soprano d'ascendante tchèque, de grande école mozartienne (le sait-on maître?), limpide mais fruité, maître de sa dynamique. Son adorable vibrato colore les poèmes sans nuire à la simplicité d'allure.”
Diapason, October 2017
“Janková cleverly varies her vibrato speed, and canny use of dynamics brings the music vividly to life … Her singing of Haydn’s The Spirit’s Song is especially sensitive, and she is suitably light-hearted in Kalivoda’s Frühlings Wanderschaft, Op.172, abetted by the sonority of the light and colourful fortepiano.”
MusicWeb International, November 2017
“Janková genügen dazu subtile Färbungen und Trübungen im Timbre. Geschickt dosiert sie ihr Vibrato vom glasklaren Ton bis zum warmen, leichten Beben, das eine unglaubliche Empathie ausstrahlt. Gerade in der Höhe gewinnt ihre Stimme eine instrumentale Intensität, die an die junge Gundula Janowitz erinnert.”
SWR2, September 2017
“Welche Stimme ist passender, um den Mond zu besingen, als jene wundersam sanft glänzende von Martina Janková? … Die jugendliche Frische und süsse Schönheit von Jankovás 46 Jahre alter Stimme fällt auf, und siehe da: Die erst jetzt erschienene Aufnahme wurde 2006 aufgenommen! Schön, dass sie endlich auf dem Markt ist.”
NZZ am Sonntag, July 2018