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Petr FIALA (b.1943)
De amicitia - Selected Compositions
I’ll Have Roses Grow (1976) [12:03] ą
Rondo for viola and piano (2005) [10:46]
A Song for One Yet Unborn (1975) [12:38] ˛ ł
Flower and Wind (2011) [4:37]
Of Friendship (2011) [5:54]
When arms speak, Muses are silent (1986) [15:04]
Capriccio (1982) [6:03] ˛
Thank you, Muse (1994) [4:37] ˛
Simona Šaturová (soprano) ą
Hana Škarková (soprano) ˛
Ivana Valešová (speaker) ł
Terezie Fialová (piano)
Kristina Fialová (viola)
Helena Fialová (piano) ł
Czech Chamber Soloists/Ivan Matyáš ł
Martinu Voices/Lukáš Vasilek
Czech Philharmonic Chorus, Brno/Petr Fiala
rec. undated, Czech Radio Recordings
Texts and some translations
ARCO DIVA UP 0157 2 231 [72:26]

Petr Fiala is best known for his founding of the Czech Philharmonic Chorus from Brno, from which city’s Janácek Academy he graduated in 1971. Renowned as a chorus-master and conductor, he has made time to compose a rich body of works, many, naturally, for choral forces. This disc celebrates and draws attention to a number of them in recordings that derive from Czech Radio. The engineers for each work are noted in the booklet but unfortunately neither the specific locations, nor the year of broadcast, though a number are likely to have been heard during 2011.
There are song-cycles to attract interest. I’ll Have Roses Grow was composed in 1976 to poems by Zuzana Nováková. The four poems are set in such a way that the calmly static alternates with the playful and dreamlike. At one point Fiala clearly stipulates the pianist should strum inside the piano but this gesture is not used as an end in itself, rather as a colouristic device. The most chordally intriguing is the last of the four settings, where the music is extrovert and exciting. The Rondo for Viola and Piano (2005) is a melancholy, largely ruminative affair where the piano is rather more the agent of change, of mood and rhythm, than the viola. The cadential passage for the viola ushers in playful exchanges for the two instruments.
One might have assumed, given his background, that Fiala would be a practised setter of poems for choirs. A Song for One Yet Unborn demonstrates just how adeptly he writes for women’s chorus, reciter and solo singer. Attractive and compact, this is another valuable addition to the tradition of such Czech music. Flower and Wind was written in 2011 and charts a darting course for the four male voices (the ever excellent Q VOX). It’s a piece that also demarcates Fiala’s sense of humour, as the voices come to a snore-like full stop. Of Friendship hints slightly at Orff but When arms speak, Muses are silent is a much more significant work, a series of seven intriguing miniatures for mixed voice chamber choir written in 1986. Much here is beautifully shaped, warmly expressive and one can’t help but detect a possible political subtext. Fiala used some of the same proverbs in his earlier cycle Capriccio, for soprano, and mixed voice chorus but the results are very different and very much more compact in scale. Finally there is Thank you, Muse with its downward choral collapse and canny use of the gong.
The notes are very brief and say little, if anything, about the music. The performances are outstanding and the radio recordings excellent. If your tastes incline largely to contemporary Czech choral music, Fiala’s Moravian slant offers much to stimulate.
Jonathan Woolf