Richard Novák - bass
Brno Janáček Opera Orchestra; Brno Janáček Opera Choir; Gerhard Zeller - piano
Brno Philharmonic, conductors František Jílek, Miroslav Hoňka, Jan Štych, Jaroslav Kyzlink
Prague Philharmonia, conductor Tomáš Hanus
CD 1 recorded at the Stadion Studio, Brno, 1978 (1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12), 1971 (9), 1977 (4), Czech Radio Brno 1983 (3), 1982 (6) and live at the Janáček Theatre, Brno, October 9, 2003 (8)
CD 2 recorded at the Domovina Studio, Prague, August, 1975 (1-11), December 1975 (12-15), and live in Rudolfinum, Prague, October 13, 2001 (16-25)
Backed up by the Czech Philharmonic, the 85-year-old Richard Novák sings the part of the Forester from the Cunning Little Vixen in a way that leaves you gaping in admiration. His performance is a witness not only to his singing skill, but also his life experience. The fact that he was lucky to find great music teachers has combined with persistence and hard work on his part. He was not afraid to interrupt his singing career at its apparent height when he felt his voice was losing inner support, and start anew. In 1961 he won second place in a singing competition in Toulouse (with José van Dame taking the first place) and became a laureate in the competition held in the Dutch city of Hertogenbosch in 1962. Dvořák, Verdi and Janáček represent the three supporting pillars of his repertoire and at the same time his three major musical loves.
Novák sang as a guest in Teatro Colón, at the Salzburg Festival under Claudio Abbado and also appeared on prestigious stages in Paris, Madrid and Venice. He has collaborated with many outstanding conductors, having sung oratorios under Ančerl and Neumann and recorded the Glagolitic Mass with both Mackerras and Chailly. One must not forget to mention his beloved song repertoire including works by Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Křička, and, first and foremost, Dvořák's Biblical Songs. The double CD featuring a selection of Novák's recordings with Supraphon and the Czech Radio is meant as homage to the admirable singer and personality on the occasion of his life anniversary. In light of his excellent condition, however, it seems somewhat premature to congratulate him on his life-time achievement.
A Portrait of an Artist Who Found His Own Path
“Richard Novák fut „la basse tchèque“ pendant des décennies. La noblesse du phrasé, la chaleur du timbre font parfois songer à Hans Hotter. La longévité aussi: à soixante-douze ans, il chantait encore l’air de Fiesco de Simon Boccanegra et, deux ans plus tôt, des Chants bibliques de Dvořák pleins de ferveur crépusculaire. Il a la grandeur et la fragilité des monarques Boris ou Philippe II. Dans Wolf ou Schubert, il a peu à envier aux Allemands. Zeller au piano, Jílek, Kyzlink ou Hanus à la baguette: des accompagnateurs dignes de lui.”
Diapason, April 2017