Michna: Loutna Česká / The Czech Lute

Ensemble Inégal, Adam Viktora
50:35
Nibiru 01602231

You might think the idea of sitting through almost an hour of soprano duet strophic settings of an unintelligible language with only brief ritornelli for a pair of violins would be torture, but not when the music in question is (a) by Adam Michna whose songs all sound like Xmas carols and (b) performed by Ensemble Inégal who could transform even the driest material spring to life. Previous recordings of material from Michna’s settings of Czech poetry have relied on the reconstructive powers of musicologists, but the recent discovery of the original Violin 1 part has meant that Adam Viktora and his excellent musicians take one step closer to the original; indeed, Song 11 now is complete, as it is for only soprano and solo violin above the continuo (here string bass, one plucker and organ – no kaleidoscopic special effects here!) Although the full texts of all the songs are given along with their translation, only selected verses of each are performed. While realizing that this is not the most approachable of music, I would seriously encourage anyone interested in 17th-century music to give it a go; the singing and playing are glorious and Michna’s duets really are very pretty.

Brian Clark