The Diary of
One Who Vanished
Leoš Janacek (1854-1928)
Stephen Ng - Tenor
Andrea Marie Baiocchi - Piano
"Stephen Ng, a tenor with an impressively eclectic resume, is simply superb in every respect. His voice is gorgeous and distinctive, and it rises to certain soft climaxes with impressive lyricism, yet when thundering high Cs are demanded in the climactic final song, those are delivered with unstinting vigor and freedom. He negotiates this complex score with rare assurance and musicality..."
Journal of Singing - May/June 2008
Recorded August 16-19, 2006
Zapisnik zmizelého (The diary of one who vanished)
Potkal jsem mladou ciganku (I met a young gypsy girl)
Ta cerna ciganka (That black gypsy girl)
Svatojanské mušky tancija po hrazi (Fireflies)
Už mladé vlaštuvky ve hn?zde vrnoži (Already young swallows)
Tecko sa mi ore (Heavy are my steeds)
Hajsi, vy sivi volci (Hey, you light-colored oxen)
Ztratil sem kolicek (I lost a peg)
Nehledte, volecci (Don't look, oxen, pining)
"Vataj, Janicku" ("Welcome, Janicek
Bože dalny, nesmrtelny (God far away, immortal)
Tahne vuna k lesu (A fragrance extends to the forest)
Tmava olšinka (Dark clumps of alders, cool pool of water)
Slnécko sa zdviha (The dear sun rises)
Moji sivi volci (My gray oxen)
Co sem to udelal? (What have I done?)
Co komu suzeno (What is fated to a person)
Nedbam ja vcil o nic (I don't care about anything)
Leti straka leti (It flies, the magpie flies)
Mam ja panenku (I have a lover)
Muj drahy taticku (My dear father)
S Bohem, rodny kraju (Farewell, native land)
Elizabeth Hall, Stetson University
Recording Engineer & Editing: Stephen Robinson
Mastering and Design: Clear Note
© Clear Note 2007
Some time ago, in an East Moravian highland village, J.D., a law-abiding and industrious youth, the sole object of hope for his parents, disappeared from home in a mysterious way. At first an accident or even a crime was suspected and the imagination of the villagers was kindled. Some days later, however, a diary was found in his room which disclosed the secret. It contained several short poems which eventually provided the key to the mystery. His parents had at first thought that the poems were folk songs and soldiers' songs that he had copied out. But a court investigation later revealed their true content. If only for their moving and sincere atmosphere, they deserve to be saved from the dust and oblivion of court files….
Lidové noviny ("People's Paper")
Brno, 14 May 1916 (Translator unknown)
The above paragraph was attached to the twenty-three anonymous poems entitled From the Pen of a Self-taught Peasant, which appeared in the popular Brno daily paper published on two consecutive Sundays. Being a subscriber and regular contributor, Janacek had come across these verses (written in the Valachian dialect) and apparently took them with him to Luhacovice on his annual spa holiday in July 1917. For a long time the authorship remained a mystery, and it was not until recently that Ozef Kalda, an obscure Moravian poet, was confirmed as the author of the cycle. According to Mirka Zemanova, the author of the most recent Janacek biography, Kalda had written to a friend in 1916 stating that he had contributed the text to the paper. Unfortunately the letter lay buried among his friend's family papers for over eighty years. In 1997 the letter was discovered by a local historian; since then Kalda has been quoted as the poet.
The main character in Zapisnik zmizelého is a farmer's teenage son named Janik, who has met a young gypsy girl named Zefka. At first he resists her tempting, beautiful eyes by sending her away. Late one day he wanders into the woods to cut a peg for his cart and finds Zefka. She teases and seduces the shy youth by showing him that "not all her skin has been darkened by the sun." He succumbs and makes love with her in the forest. From that moment on, although he is angry at himself for betraying his moral beliefs and bringing shame to his family by falling in love with a lower class woman, he looks forward to every night when he can go to the woods and be with Zefka. According to Thomas Acord's dissertation on the cycle, when Janik finally realizes that the gypsy is bearing his son, he decides to leave his family to be with her and live his life from then on as a gypsy.
During his spa holiday in July 1917, Janacek had met Kamila Stösslova, who had a great influence on his works in the later part of his life. According to Zemanova, Kamila only regarded him as a friend and fatherly figure, yet Janacek fell deeply in love with her and their relationship was detailed in their exchange of over 700 letters, which are published in Intimate Letters: Leos Janacek to Kamila Stösslova, edited and translated by John Tyrrell. Janacek had clearly associated Kamila Stösslova with the character Zefka. In his letter dated July 1924, he wrote to her saying: "And Kat'a, you know, that was you beside me. And that black gypsy girl in my Diary of One who Vanished – that was especially you even more. That's why there's such emotional heat in these works." In fact Janik seems to be a self portrait of Janacek, hoping for the fulfillment of his fantasy. As a result, the theme of the young farmer's flight to a new life with his beloved must have had a special appeal for him.
Composing the cycle was not a smooth process for Janacek. Soon after he returned from Luhacovice in August 1917, he wrote Kamila that "he would have a clean version finished soon." According to Zemanova, this statement proved to be overly optimistic, as a year later he lost the desire to continue working on the piece. One could assume this attitude change was due to the fact that Stösslova was writing diplomatic responses to his love letters. Nevertheless, he continued with many revisions of the piece. In March 1919 he wrote to Kamila that he had finished the work and that more works would still follow. Although Janacek gave a completion date of June 6th, 1919 in the autograph, there are evidences of further revisions beyond that date. Later in 1919 the completed score was put away into a chest where the composer kept his unperformed music. It was ignored (probably because Janacek had focused on Kat'a Kabanova since early 1920) until his pupil, Bretislav Bakala, went through his drawers and discovered the manuscript. Bakala gave a private performance of the cycle for Janacek with his friend, tenor Jaroslav Lecian, more than a year after its completion. Janacek then revised the high tenor tessitura and changed the role of Zefka from a soprano to a mezzo. Zapisnik zmizelého was finally premiered in Brno on April 18th, 1921 in Janacek's presence, and was published later the same year. Initially, Janacek wanted a portrait of Kamila to be on the cover of the score. He invited her to the first performance in Prague, but she graciously declined his offers. In December of 1921 the Prague premiere was a huge success, which eventually brought the work recognition outside of Czechoslovakia.
There are a total of twenty-three poems in the cycle. One of them (number thirteen) consists of nothing but hyphens and punctuation. Janacek set all the poems in full, with the exception of some omission of verses in the tenth one. He combined the tenth and eleventh poems into a single number and wrote the "punctuation poem" as a piano solo to depict the sexual seduction mentioned earlier.
As a song cycle, Zapisnik zmizelého not only depicts moods and impressions but also tells a story. As suggested by Zemanova, one can describe the cycle as a dramatic cantata, as the characters Janik and Zefka are specified and dialogue is employed. Basic stage directions appear in the score, such as when and how the mezzo should enter and exit the stage. It is indicated that the work should be performed on a half-darkened stage. In numbers nine and ten, the use of a female trio singing from offstage prevents their visual interference with the drama. In addition, directions such as attacca and Delši prestavka (long pause) are given at the end of certain numbers to show dramatic continuation between movements.
Piano Sonata ("Z ulice, 1.X.05," "From the Street, 1 October, 1905")
"The white marble of the steps
of the Brno Guildhall - - -
here the bloodied worker
František Pavlik falls - - -
he came only to protest about university teaching -
and was struck down by brutal murderers"
The piano sonata 1.X.1905 was inspired by a tragic incident which occurred in the fall of 1905: František Pavlik, a Czech wood-worker, was killed by soldiers during a demonstration at the founding of a Czech University in Brno.
The sonata was first performed at a concert of the Brno Friends of Music Club on January 21, 1906 with the two movements titled "Presentiment" and "Elegy". It wasn't until 1924 when Janacek decided to have the work published, where it appeared under the title "October 1, 1905", "Presentiment", and "Death".
Originally a work of three movements, Janacek instead chose to destroy the last movement, which had been a monumental funeral march. He also did away with the remaining two movements in 1906, literally throwing them into the River Vltava. It wasn't until his seventieth birthday when Ludmila Tuckova, the first interpreter of the work, performed the two-movement sonata for Janacek based off of the copy she had from the original performance.
About the Artists on this recording
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Stephen Ng is known as an opera, oratorio, recital, and new music performer. On the operatic stage, he was featured as the tenor soloist with De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, in nine performances of the staged version of Stravinsky's Threni, in which the renowned Peter Sellars was the director. Internationally, he has appeared at Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the Cultural Centre and City Hall in Hong Kong, and on the recital series of St. John's Cathedral, Hong Kong.
As a tenor soloist, Stephen has performed all the major works of J.S. Bach, Handel's Messiah, as well as many major oratorios. His portrayal of the role of Evangelist in Bach's Passions has received much acclaim, and he has performed with major early music group such as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Carmel Bach Festival, Amherst Early Music Festival, and Atlanta Baroque Orchestra. With great interest in contemporary music, he was invited to participate in the Lucerne Festival Academy 2006, under the direction of Pierre Boulez. His professional engagements also include performing with Festival Internacional Cervantino (Guanajuato, Mexico), Theatre of Voices, Schönberg Ensemble (Amsterdam), Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and Hong Kong Sinfonietta, working with conductors such as Nicolas McGegan, Paul Hillier, Reinbert de Leeuw, Anthony Hose, Daniel Reuss, and Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
Stephen received his Doctor of Music in voice at Indiana University, and his Master of Music degree in voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He was a Vocal Chamber Music Fellow at the 1997 Aspen Music Festival. Currently, Stephen Ng is Assistant Professor of Voice at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.
Mezzo soprano Jane Christeson has had a varied career in opera, oratorio and musical theater. As a solo artist, she has appeared with the opera companies of Palm Beach, Cincinnati, Orlando, Treasure Coast, Birmingham, and Grand Rapids, and she has been a featured soloist with many orchestras in the Midwestern and Southern United States. Ms. Christeson has performed as soloist with conductors such as Christopher Keene, Anton Coppola, Anton Guadagno, Julius Rudel, and Amerigo Marino, and her principal teacher is Edward White. She has also studied and coached with David Jones, Henri Venanzi, James Lockhart, and Horst Günter. . Ms. Christeson is currently an Associate Professor of Voice as well as Song and Opera Literature at Stetson University's School of Music.
American pianist Andrea Marie Baiocchi has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. A Fellow at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and First Prize winner of the 'National Career Award' by the National Society of Arts and Letters, Ms. Baiocchi holds a Bachelors Degree and Performer Diploma from Bloomington's Indiana University, as well as a Performer's Certificate - the school's highest musical honor.
Ms. Baiocchi's concert appearances include Carnegie Hall's Weill and Zankel Halls, the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, the Austrian Embassy in Washington D.C., at Indiana University-Bloomington, the Musica Viva Series in Illinois, and the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. Her festival appearances include Schleswig-Holstein, Ravinia's Steans Institute, the Franz-Schubert-Institut, the Académie Internationale de Musique Maurice Ravel and the Académie Festival des Arcs.
This recording is made possible by a Stetson University Hand Faculty Grant
established through the generosity of Dolly and Homer Hand
with special thanks to the following people
James Woodward, Dean, Stetson University School of Music
Dennis Lamb, Patrece Robinson, Robert and Mollie Rich, Jane Christeson, Alan Bennett, Timothy Cheek,
Scarecrow Press, Carl Horne, Vickie Brownie, and Barbara Brunning,
Rebecca Bell, Sarah Edmiston, and Stephanie Lorenz
Recorded August 16-19, 2006 - Elizabeth Hall, Stetson University
Production Engineer: Stephen Robinson
Mastering/Design: Clear Note
Stephen Ng photo by Lois Tema
© Clear Note Publications - 2007