Friday, August 23, 2013

CCC 084 - János Vajda

This week the Consonant Classical Challenge looks at Hungarian composer János Vajda. Vajda (b. 1949), is best known for his vocal music. His most popular works include four operas, a mass, and various song cycles. His music is quite lyrical in nature, with melodies that flow easily from note to note. Vadja's harmonies are indeed tonal, although not necessarily built on simple triads.

"Just for You," a work for solo cello contains the essence of Vajda's melodic style. The chromatic shadings are characteristic of Slavic folk music, and give the work a hint of exoticism.

The orchestral work "Titanic," has Vadja painting with a much richer tonal palette. In this excerpt one can hear the chordal structures that make up his tonal-based style.

Vadja knows full well the rich, expressive qualities of the human voice, and he uses that to full advantage in his operas. The drama in this scene from "Mario es a Varazslo"is carried by the voices, supported by an Kurt Weil-like circus band that sets the stage.

Choral music is another area of János Vajda's strength. This Alleluja shows Vajda's facility for writing performance-friendly choral music of quality.

János Vajda is an important Eastern European composer who's not as well known in this country -- with the possible exception of advanced choral groups. And that's too bad, because his music is not only accessible and appealing, but it also has a unique quality to it. I'm hoping some ambitious opera company (or summer festival) will have the courage to mount a production of "Barabias," or "Leonce és Léna."

Recommended recordings

String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2;

Janos Vajda: Mario and the Magician

Janos Vajda: Missa In A

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