Marie Fajtová is a young Czech graduate of the Prague Conservatory
who studied piano very early and then singing. She was a finalist
in the Antonín Dvorák International Singing Competition in 2004.
In 2008 she won the Grand Prize in the Barbara Hendricks International
Vocal Competition in Strasbourg. During the 2005-2006 season she
was a member of Pilsen’s Theatre and after that moved to the National
Theatre in Prague. She has also appeared in other Czech houses
as well as in several countries abroad. In January this year she
made her debut at the Finnish National Opera as Marguerite in
I have still to hear her in the flesh but she has an agreeable
bright, lyric voice. This is mobilised with intensity and involvement
and she nuances well. What may be a disturbance to some listeners
is her vibrato: a fast flicker that is noticeable from mezzo-forte
and upwards. Others would call it a characteristic of her timbre
that gives her a very personal sound. It actually bothered me
very little, though I would have preferred a straighter tone.
Her pianissimo singing is ravishing, however, and she has a splendid
legato, which is amply demonstrated in Richard Strauss’s Heimkehr
for instance sample
is strong, expressive and concentrated while Morgen
scaled down and inward. Her handling of dynamics is in clear evidence
I chose those Richard Strauss lieder as examples
since they are by far the best known in this recital.
Naturally competition is extremely keen in this repertoire but
she stands up well even against experienced artists and what she
may lack in insight is well compensated for by the freshness of
Of the Czech songs those by Klement Slavický were completely new
to me. Born in 1910 he belonged to the avant-garde during the
inter-war years. The songs recorded here date from 1954 and were
not regarded as in line with the socialist realism that was the
official principle during the communist regime. The texts are
from Moravian folk poetry and the composer may have derived some
inspiration from Janácek, who actually taught Slavicky’s father.
The melodies are often hauntingly beautiful, the accompaniments
colourful, sometimes rather harsh but always personal and with
unexpected turns. In the fifth song, There was a chilly dew
one can feel the chill and the wetness in the dissonances of the
accompaniment. This cycle was a pleasant surprise.
Dvorák’s songs are perhaps more immediately accessible. The texts
are from Czech and Moravian folk songs and are truly inspired.
Few composers have had the ability to create melodies that sound
so natural, sprung directly from nature. They are nicely contrasted.
Good-night my darling
is sweet, simple and beautiful, When
a maiden was a-mowing
lively and energetic, Nothing can
depicts the bitterness of the girl
have a faithful mare
Martinu, like Janácek before him, borrowed existing tunes and
added expressive accompaniments, often inspired by the playing
technique of the cimbalom. They are fresh and captivating.
Robert Pechanec is a flexible accompanist and the recording is
good though the acoustics seem a bit too generous, which afflicts
the cleanness of the piano tone. I am indebted to Tomáš Slavický’s
excellent liner-notes from which I have culled some of the information
in this review.
The disc is an attractive calling-card for a promising singer
in the first stages of a career that has already made her a sought
after name in leading opera houses and concert halls.