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Texts in colour are translations of Slovak or Czech originals.

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Reviews and comments found in the last 30 days!!!

Godár’s transcriptions never go against the folk song, on the contrary, in all aspects of instrumentation they support its melody through the optimal plan of the musical texture and ingenious variations of particular instruments of the quartet thus creating a valuable conversation of all its four members.

(Milan Bátor, ostravan.cz, November 26, 2016, on Godár’s arrangements of Bartók’s Slovak Songs, see http://www.ostravan.cz/36671/dvojrecenze-ostravu-okouzlily-nadpozemske-zeny-aneb-martina-jankova-versus-iva-bittova/)

Above all Godár’s music worships the ideal of classical Beauty, created by tradition from the times of Antiquity through Renaissance and Baroque to Classicism. He is essentially united with this tradition (what resulted not only from his long-time domestic music-making in the house of legendary Hansi Albrecht, but also from his permanent practice in arrangement and publishing of older music), he endeavours to preserve it and develop. Although he is not alone in this approach, we have to admit that compared to his paragons which he acknowledges Godár possesses a sense for mutual balance of dynamics and statics, for aptly chosen contrasts. His sound basis in traditionally conceived concepts of harmony and melody ensures him the audience’s and performers’ comprehension. Yet it also carries a precarious aspect in itself: it is very difficult to fulfil his ideal, as it calls for soulmates with similar musical experience.

(Jaroslav Štastný, Hudobný život 9/2016, p. 37, on CD Crux)

When Iva Bittová goes through purgatory, the composer Vladimír Godár is nearby

The Slovak composer Vladimír Godár is a stroke of fate which hits the singer Iva Bittová from time to time. When the moment comes, Bittová inflames with a bright blaze. The singer burns like the biblical burning bush in which God appeared to Moses. And the music prepared for Bittová by Godár is always a revelation. Also because it is performed by Bittová. They fit in with each other perfectly. The circle is closed.

Recently Iva Bittová and Mucha Quartet released the album Slovak Songs, based on folk songs arranged by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Godár has transcribed them for the string quartet and voice.

In Godár’s case a “mere” transcription means a unique work.

The “violin register” of the singer’s voice – perhaps given by the same instrument on which Bittová usually accompanies herself – is naturally merging with the sound of the string quartet.

It was like that when Škampa Quartet played Janácek, and it is the same way now when Mucha Quartet plays Bartók. The listener does not feel only a merging, it is a fusion.

The composer Vladimír Godár has created a sensitive acoustic mixture for them, as though blended of music coming from different historical eras.

(Ivan Hartman, Hospodárské noviny, July 22, 2016, on Godár’s arrangements of Bartók’s Slovak Songs)

Orbis sensualium pictus 30 years later

Like astonishment, coming from the anticipation of the depiction of our visible world. [...] prototype of the birth, origination [...] Comenius’ texts in their ingenious naiveté were moulded into music by Godár through his deep inner comprehension, aware of the truth that everything that exists was created by the power of the Spirit. That is what fascinates me about this music even today.

The performance sharply emphasized the expressive force of all components of the musical language – for instance the dramatic cascades present in both the orchestration and moulding of the musical development [...] Now, thirty years later, I still regard Orbis sensualium pictus as one of the supreme Slovak compositions.

(Igor Berger, Hudobný život 5/2016, p. 2, on Orbis sensualium pictus)

Slovakia has a history, but no memory

One of those who incessantly remind us of the musical memory of the nation is the composer, musicologist, essayist, man of deep contemplation, outwardly pensive but in fact remarkably spiritually active, in the past as well as today always educating his circle of friends – Vladimír Godár.

Thanks to Albrechtina, the civil organisation initiated and founded by him in 2009 (and named after the father and son Albrechts) and due to Godár’s research-focused dramaturgic and organizational activities we have had an opportunity to listen to many forgotten compositions of the masters coming from the territory of Slovakia (I avoid intentionally the word “Slovak”, although many of them found their permanent home in Slovakia, whether they spoke Slovak, Hungarian or German) in the Pálffy Palace. They usually lived and worked in bigger towns years before the “mighty handful” of representatives of Slovak music modernism (as it was named by Ladislav Burlas) appeared, who lighted up here and were regarded as the genuine legacy of the professional music of the 20th century for a long time. But in Slovakia beautiful music was composed even before this period – from the Middle Ages until the ground-breaking entrance of our national artists. And this forgotten music was unspelled thanks to Albrechtina and its researcher Vlado Godár [...]

Although a graduate from the Bratislava Conservatory in the class of Juraj Pospíšil and from the Academy of Music, where he was a student of Dezider Kardoš – he is not a reflection of either of them. He found his own way. It would be only disserviceable to name a hundred of his chamber and orchestral compositions [...] Godár not only went through various evolutionary periods, in which he followed many foreign and domestic modernist trends, later even domestic Medieval tradition with which he used to “play” creatively, but he also enlivened one peculiarity rejected by modernists for years: the easy-to-listen-to music, combined – obviously – with thorough knowledge and usage of modern compositional trends and sonoristic effects. Godár’s motivic nuclei lead through the elaborated process of variability and fantasy to the finale – with the return of the main theme, simplified, purified and inserted into the listener-calming conclusion. [...] Apart from other qualities his music conveys immense humanity, emotionality, with a deep understanding for the heart of an individual and memory of the nation.

The concert organized as a tribute to Vladimír Godár confirmed the composer’s lifelong juncture of the world art with the domestic one, of the simple with the complicated, the literary with the musical, the philosophical with the outright experience of man, with the endeavour to convey the complexities of the mind to the widest circle of perception [...]

(Terézia Ursínyová, operaslovakia.sk, April 21, 2016, on Vladimír Godár’s Birthday Concert, see http://operaslovakia.sk/slovensko-ma-historiu-ale-nema-pamat/#sthash.BLxvxoOb.dpuf)

Ich komme seit fast 35 Jahren nach Bratislava und liebe Ihr Land. Ich habe viele Slowakische Werke ganz stolz dirigiert. Aber Dieses Oratorium vom Godar ist was besonderes. Dieses Stück muss international bekannt werden.

(Alexander Rahbari, Concert Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic, after the concert on March 17 and 18, 2016, on Orbis sensualium pictus)

Get it! Words fail me to describe this wonderful album. The Regina Coeli is worth the price alone. It is unique and inspiring music.

(Roger W. Smith, Amazon.com, January 7, 2016, on “Mater”)

Godár’s pieces complement those of Burlas, on the emotional as well as intellectual level, similarly to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s ones, often performed jointly today. Next to frailly floating, spontaneously sincere and amiable Burlas’s compositions the weight and embedding of Godár’s works stick out. Also his intellectual and rational approach to composing stands in contrast, comparable to that of a music architect-constructor. Godár’s pieces carry a certain artificial darkness within themselves. Various inspirations and intentions are disclosed in them, e.g. references to Penderecki and Bach (Grave, Passacaglia), connection of dodecaphony with tonality and sonata, rondo and variation principles (Trigram), even inspiration by Plato’s categorization of dances and Erik Satie in Emmeleia (which later, arranged for orchestra, became the title music in a beautiful Martin Šulík movie The Garden). The union of the pieces of these two authors, colleagues and generational fellows, and at the same time very different personalities, into one CD recording was a great fead. However, in spite of all that I have mentioned here, Burlas’s austerity is closer to me than Godár’s intellectual approach filled by codes and references.

(Rado Tihlárik: http://popular.sk/martin-burlas-vladimir-godar-klavirna-hudba, August 22, 2015, on CD Piano Music)

Four sacred pieces by two Slovakian composers added a rich, harmonic flavor to the evening. Jan Bella created a setting of the Ave Maria, and some verses from Psalm 40. Van Evera sang these intensely, before moving to the even more intense music of Vladimir Godar. Godar has done much to make Bella’s music more available, but his own 2010 oratorio, Querela Pacis, (Complaint of Peace) is much more powerful. The excerpt ‘Domine exaudi’ (Hear me, O Lord), was the most moving music of the evening.

(Sam Black: Creative Classics As The Season Slows Down. In: DuluthReader, August 6, 2015, on Querela pacis)

This was followed by two sections of Vladimir Godar's Querela Pacis (“Complaint of Peace”) oratorio. The instrumental “A Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times”, offers a melancholic theme that moves oboe to flute before the strings transform it into something deeper and more luscious tune. Again a theme is developed by the woodwinds, then passed to the strings for a similar alteration, with Godar setting a pulse below the main melody.

[...]

While further exploration of the works of Charles Ives seems pretty inevitable after such exposure, my personal recommendation would be checking out the complete recording of Godar's Querela Pacis, which also features Van Evera’s singing. The last time I was this taken with a contemporary liturgical work it was Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” so I have been submerged in listening to Godar's oratorical for several days.

(Lawrance Bernabo: Van Evera returns to Duluth to sing with the LSCO. In: Duluth News Tribune, July 30, 2015, on Querela pacis)

When I first heard this piece of Heavenly music I was driving my car and just had to stop, it touched me to my core.

(Brian Coughlan, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBpoyZej0rs, July 2015, on Magnificat)

A muffled ring enters, resonates almost ominously before evaporating in undulation. It comes back and its reverberation it introduces a beautiful, vulnerable, almost tragic voice begins its plea to a silent but omnipresent interlocutor. With each ring, she adds more, changing the pattern of her prayer, emboldened by the fact that a door has been open and that she is allowed to explore the possibility of her own language. Her voice displays strength, veneration, the virtuosity that can only be hinted by the power of its simplicity. What tragedy is being sung, what story, plea, prayer and chant is unfolding. Hence giving rise to a most powerful moment in music... Magnificat is chanted almost like a mantra... each time bringing a new dimension, a new level of sensibility a new view on the invisible a greater grasp at the immense. What this unfolds, comes a powerful moment. The magnificat. Then everything is explained. The lust that compels one to bask in the complete spiritual bliss while choosing to incur grave ramifications in our world. Or is it being exhorted to rise above all and smile to the world as a deity who only knows love Imagined having witnessed the sublime, being entrusted with a secret so vast, so liberating that revealing to those whose minds and hearts cannot bear vehemently reject it... it’s almost the dark, lonely contemplation of the existence of the infinite. Many times, what is utterly beautiful creates a moment where admiration blends with fear and appreciation and admiration brush a little bit of incomprehension for the language of the gods isn’t one of ours.

(Gerard Beaubrun, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBpoyZej0rs, July 2015, on Magnificat)

Ancient European music style. I like this kind of music when I want to meditate or putting my mind in the right level.

(Kris M, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBpoyZej0rs, júl 2015, on Magnificat)

This piece is interesting, passionate, and moving. It blends traditions that are centuries old with contemporary overtones. The voice soloist has classic and rock roots, and it all fits. We bought it for the Alleluia, and ended up falling for the whole CD.

(Greg, Amazon.com, June 12, 2014, on “Mater”)

The audience demanded the programmed encore, a most delightful song, somewhat incongruous to the rest of the program, “What Does the Little Birdie Say?” from Querela Pacis by the Slovakian composer Vladimír Godár, written in 2009.

(Clinton White, CityNews, May 10, 2014, on What Does Little Birdie Say? from Querela pacis)

Querela pacis (celebration [sic!] of peace) suits excellently the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Slovakia’s membership in the European Union. (...) Today we need to get scared to be awakened. Godár used Erasmus Roterodamus, Commenius, Longfellow, a biblical story... to frighten us with the centenary of the WWI. It is iniquitous to overlook these references.

(Igi, VinylWorld, May 4, 2014, on Querela pacis)

Music of this composition is a blend of Godár’s explorations, which could also be characterized as a way of a contemporary composer to his listener. It is filled by many up-to-date and typically Godáresque devices, harmonies and melodic beauties, combined into an impressive and meticulously elaborated music collage – including the use of early music instruments. Godár’s music guides the listener from medieval textual and musical imitations and mental metaphors to our cruel present – it takes us down the paths of compositional byways of this significant author. These reveal to us images of the humanist, composer, philosopher, and artist Vladimír Godár, who has his finger on the pulse of the age. His oratorio is a mental appeal, but also a speculation about how to face his listener and not to become estranged from himself, from the era in which he is composing, and most of all from his listeners: After all, why compose for himself?

In his “complaining oratorio” Godár has spoken as a contemporary whose “tolling bells” have resonated in all of us with the thoughts about the absurdity of wars, avarice of the rich of the world, which – in the words of the composer – can lead to the extinction of our civilization.

(Terézia Ursínyová, OperaPlus, http://operaplus.cz/co-je-krehci-a-kratsi-nez-lidsky-zivot/, May 3, 2014, on Querela pacis)

To immerse oneself in the tones of Querela pacis means to enter the another dimension and “stop breathing”.

(Alexander, VinylWorld, May 1, 2014, on Querela pacis)

From my point of view it is really an exceptional work. (...) Thanks to fate allowing me to be its contemporary. Briefly – I have to see it.

(Igi, VinylWorld, April 10, 2014, on Querela pacis)

(...) the third piece was by a fellow Slovak musician, Vladimir Godár, O, Crux (‘O Cross …’), obviously inspired by the Catholic Latin liturgy. All evolved as pregnant, deeply felt inspirations.

The music was diatonic enough, but exhibited, at first, through a series of heavy bow strokes, a violence and anguish that was powerful; later that was set aside by a lighter passage in a dotted, dancing rhythm; the improvisation led off with his rhythmic bouncing the wood of his bow on the strings, that suddenly became more frenetic.

(Lindis Taylor, Middle C, Classical Music Reviews, NZ, March 21, 2014, on O, Crux)

J'aurais parié que tu aimerais. C'est vrai qu'il est vraiment beau ce MATER.

(Icare, Toutes les musiques du monde, March 17, 2014, o, “Mater”)

Je partage aussi votre enthousiasme!

(Jean, Toutes les musiques du monde, March 17, 2014, o, “Mater”)

Très émouvant cette voix de femme et la musque de ce Stabat Mater d'une grande beauté.

(laudec, Toutes les musiques du monde, March 16, 2014, on “Mater”)

Parce que c'est de ça qu'il s'agit avec le Mater de Vladimir Godar, une musique qui voyage hors du temps, hors des âges, hors des époques. Elle stoppe les montres et les horloges, relie l'hier à l'aujourd'hui en un moment divin, l'ancien au moderne dans un acte de recueillement, ou, d'une certaine façon, ôte provisoirement tout sens à ces mots...une musique qui va au-delà des mots et des notes...spirituellement parlant.

(...) Le compositeur est habile. J'adore son emploi des cordes, très présentes dans le Concerto Grosso et la Partita. Le troisième mouvement du Concerto Grosso est exquis.

(Icare, Toutes les musiques du monde, March 16, 2014, on music by VG)

Composiciones corales bellísimas

Especialmente buena la pieza "Magnificat", Todas las piezas corales son muy relajantes. Lo compré porque lo escuché en Radio Clásica y luego lo he regalado a algún amigo de esos que lo tienen todo en música clásica y le ha encantado (porque lo conoce muy poca gente).

(María Ángeles Hidalgo Sánchez, amazon.es, December 30, 2013, on “Mater”)

I wish this composer brings out a lot more music. For me his music is as touching as Kancheli, Pärt or Silvestrov and perhaps Schnittke. Though really own recogniseble handriding and Tjechian feeling.

(Mischa Kleveringa, Amazon.de, November 13, 2013, on CD “Works for Cello”)

Not for the frivolous

Those who seek out light, cheerful music need not knock on Vladimir Godar's door. If your tastes run to Shostakovich (late quartets) Vasks, Part, Gorecki, Silvestrov, then you will be at home here. While this album is not as engrossing as his "Mater" album, it is nonetheless serious and compelling music. Listening to Godar means a participation in deep moral and historical matters. His music has at times references to Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and very modern expressions. The music conveys what his cover notes also give evidence of and that is of a very scholarly composer – one who has his art deeply embedded in history and not just music history.

The singer here is poised and clean. Parrott adds superb poignancy to the performances, though I somewhat wish for Eva Bitova's less belle canto style in some of these pieces.

(Robert Walker, amazon.com, October 22, 2013, on Querela pacis)

The composer who wishes to spread beauty

This time Music & Literature review dedicated rather extensive part of its content to the Slovak composer Vladimír Godár. Launching its 3rd issue M&L organized a chamber concert with Godár’s compositions. Another well-known Slovak musician Peter Breiner (...) has written to Bratislava daily Sme, that it was an exceptionally pleasurable evening. At the end the room was filled by happy people and their smiles.

Three young Americans played in the NY bookstore McNally Jackson music which eliminated all borders and touched every present guests in the depth – from experts and producers of radio stations airing classical music to amateurs and casual visitors who only incidentally stopped by and after hearing a few notes were hit by the music and stayed till the end. The photographer, who had some job here to do, forgot it completely and burst into tears. Behold, insensitive Americans.

The quarterly Music & Literature edited by a young man Taylor Davis-Van Atta aims to help artists, who are generally unknown though they deserve it. Peter Breiner adds that it is exactly Vlado Godár, who deserves to be played and listened to much more in the USA.

He is a composer who would like to spread beauty, peace, understanding and priceless historical values.

(...)

The musicians, almost two generations younger, comprehended Vlado’s music and played it with a passion which was conveyed onto the listeners.

(Jan Èerný, Èeský rozhlas, http://www.rozhlas.cz/plus/svet/_zprava/jaderny-iran-zeny-jako-vrazedkyne-a-slovensky-skladatel-v-americe--1268940, October 15, 2013, on O, Crux, Talisman, Sonata to the memory of Viktor Shklovsky)

The music of Godár sounds, to me, like the music of a time in which religious ritual has died and what was prayer is now dramatic exclamation, what was faith is now the enthrallment of beauty. The old ritual forms are often invoked by Godár, for those forms still hold music well, but Godár’s music is a renunciation of piety and a restoration, a worship, of the anguish needed to awaken our souls.

The aesthetics of music survive with ease the present shift from the church into theater, the concert hall, films such as those for which Godár writes scores. It is the music, the tones, that are enduring, not the beliefs that they are regarded as serving at a particular place and time.

(Lawrence Sutin, Music & Literature, No. 3, September 2013, on Godár’s music generally)

Just a few words...

I received Querela Pacis last Christmas, and I just wanted to thank you for your beautiful music... Just like Mater, “she” is so strong, so intense, so deep... “she” touches heart and mind...

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a new “reinterpretation” of H. von Biber in “A Gran Battaglia” !

(Frédérique Breitel, in a personal e-mail, February 5, 2013, on Querela Pacis)

...this amazing piece of music. ... This sonata is lovely and tortured. It brings to mind that wonderful phrase in Joyce’s “The Dead” – “thought-tormented music.”

(Douglas Glover, Numéro Cinq, January 24, 2013, on Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky)

The music of Vladimír Godár is represented by the piece O Crux, Meditation, originally written for cello. This piece continuously develops a line growing by one tone at a time in a strictly limited structure and in meditative sighs which contrast sharply with spots of fragile harmony. The album is closed by Godár’s Sonata from 2004. Its first movement brings a truly daemonic air filled by dynamics and provocative double stops in sequences which often oscillate in extended tonality and freely comment on Bach’s music. A plaintive melody reminiscent of a film score emerges in the second movement. The third one, Intermezzo, brings pizzicato sections with brisk dance episodes. The closing Passacaglia is built on a Bach-like meditative imitation in authentic D minor mode based on a descending row of tones evoking a kind of Pachelbel-like pensiveness in the area of the original minor scale.

(Peter Katina, http://peterkatina.blogspot.sk/2012/12/recenzia-cd-milan-pala-violin-solo-1-3.html, December 13, 2012, on O, Crux, and Sonata for Violin Solo)

a genius,,,, the composer...

(Julius Dreyfsandt zu Schlamm, www.youtube.com, December 2012, on Regina Coeli)

The most joyous piece from generally magnificent album which everybody should have in their home collection.

(BlueberryRepublic9, www.youtube.com, November 2012, on Regina Coeli)

I think Vladimir Godar's 'Mater' might be one of the most beautiful things ever made.

(Courtney Johnston, https://twitter.com/auchmill/status/237047755728633857, August 18, 2012, on “Mater”)

From this year [of Viva Musica! festival] programme the closest to my heart was the project of contemporary Slovak composer Vladimír Godár named MATER. This very quiet and intimate work has almost healing effects pulling us from the bustle of workdays and arousing the most fragile thoughts and inner feelings, so that we have to perceive them and deal with them. Thank God for such music.

The central protagonist of the work among all those amazing musicians is Iva Bittová. The motif of the work is mother, thus also woman and various appearances of love. I cannot imagine a more appropriate woman as solo singer for MATER than Iva.

(Michal Štefan, jazz.sk, July 4, 2012, on “Mater”)

The junction of Godár and Iva Bittová is congenial, no other composer has managed to write for this singer so much music with which she would be able to identify to such a degree. Magnificat is one of the most gorgeous pieces originating here, a pure essence of beauty and the best quality from the history of music, namely of Monteverdi...

The playful Regina Coeli recalling the composer’s memory of his music-making in the house of Ján Albrecht, the spiritual father of reviviscence of early music in our country... While Solamente naturali ensemble vigorously let off the instrumental passages, Iva Bittová started to dance and her singing was later on nicely supported by Bratislava Church Choir...

(Oliver Rehák, kultura.sme.sk, July 1, 2012, on “Mater”)

When Roma music isn’t playing, composer Vladimir Godar provides Renaissance-style chamber music that’s elegant, if sometimes a little too pretty for the story and its setting.

(Mark Jenkins, http://www.npr.org/2012/06/26/155705613/gypsy-somethings-rotten-this-time-in-slovakia, June 26, 2012, on movie Gypsy)

Personally, I also enjoyed Godár’s second piece – Déploration sur la mort de Witold Lutos³awski for piano quartet [sic!]. As one of my friends who were at the concert aptly commented – it is not easy to create on such a large space that kind of drama using such minimal devices.

(Peter, VinylWorld, May 13, 2012, on Déploration sur la mort de Witold Lutos³awski)

Querela Pacis is absolutely incredible!!!! What a gorgeous work!!! I am so so happy you sent it to me!

(Marvin Rosen, Classical Discoveries, in a personal e-mail, March 13, 2012, on Querela pacis)

I'm glad to say that your piece was a great success! All the performers and audience were impressed with your music.

(Valentin Uryupin, conductor, in a personal e-mail, January 23, 2012, on Concerto grosso)

The title Querela pacis = Lament of peace refers to the nature of war, the paradox that “our civilization is probably since the WW2 still paving its existence by means of honorable killing in endless wars somewhere on Earth.” (booklet) Godár’s effort to liberate the humankind from this bloody ilusion, which communicates with baroque music is authentic and if you listen to it with attention, it is unbelievably touching, like an unselfish prayer, like an arrow aimed to God, which is almost physical.

(Alapastel, last.fm, January 12, 2012, on Querela pacis)

Beautiful! Thank you Vladimir Godar

(IskalkaQuest2010, YouTube, January 2012, on Stabat Mater)

Great track.

(Nuadha79, YouTube, December 2011, on Stabat Mater)

My intention is to present a recording which is better than good. [...] A comparison with Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is convenient (the use of Latin and English texts is another resemblance), but the musical language here is very different. In my view the piece is the most impressive in those moments where the composer uses the modal material (resembling voice leading in Arvo Pärt’s compositions), that is in the introductory Preludio and final Postludio. A certain special rigidness and archaic character (stemming from the material used) in contrast with superb tectonic structure results in an interesting new quality and succeeds in keeping the attention even for a relatively long time. I do not value as high the movements whose harmonical language and rhythmics refer to a more trivial kind of pop-music (e.g. the second movement – Recitativo), or to older music (for instance the “Wagner-like” conclusion of the third movement – Obsidium Urbis and the baroque style, which are present frequently). Speaking about the performance and sound the recording cannot be reproached almost for anything [...] Solamente naturali ensemble is playing with historical knowledge, precisely and with marvelously dynamically rich sound, which is always smooth and cultivated even in fortissimo. The soloists, choir and conductor, as well as sound directors of the recording – all deserve the honours. Excellent sound, excellent presentation. Good news for contemporary music.

(Michal Nejtek, Harmonie, 2011/11, on Querela Pacis)

When musician Godár joined his musical celebration of peace with historian Godár’s verbal accusation against war, that was obviously an extremely contemporary gesture of humanist Godár, however pathetic it sounds. Fortunately Godár’s engagé music is not cruel. It is sublime. However, it is not sublime due to its interpreted extra-musical idea. It is sublime in elegiac manner. As an artistic answer to the unsettling phenomenon of war it dissociates it through a universally valid form, which joins actual musical utterance with historical consciousness. In Godár’s work both aspects are separable only with difficulties; although being contemporary composer he approaches music from the historical position. Even now he converses not only with social, but also with musical context of the Erasmus era. Historical word and historical tone sound in unison from the introductory Preludio – Mantra till the closing Postludio – Mantra, in which Godár set fragments from Erasmus’ treatise Lament of Peace to music. The word falls silent only in two instrumental movements A Gran Battaglia for violin and orchestra and A Sad Pavan for these distracted times for orchestra. Both are superb displays of musical mimesis informed by philosophical-aesthetic lecture of an educated historian and motivated by representative ambition of an ambitious composer. Here Godár presented himself as a compositionally competent neoclassicist with refined recycling aesthetic a la Stravinsky [...]

The strongest moments of the new Godár album are, as I see it, its fith, ninth and tenth movements. Lament for its unity of idea and its compositional solution, Pavana for its sheer musical beauty and in Postludio probably most distinctively revealed the author’s poetical writing and his famous sense for dramatic and affective pathos.

(Jozef Cseres, Hudobný život 2011/10, on Querela pacis)

Extraordinaire musique

Merci a la chaine ARTE de m'avoir fait connaitre ce film et ce compositeur avec cette musique d'une pureté inoui qui me tire les larme des yeux.

(jacquesalexraymond, YouTube, September 2011, on Ecce puer)

The album is seemingly contradictory in itself: on one hand it is concise, you can listen to it again and again and it is remarkably musically and emotionally saturated, on the other hand it is possible to go astray due to its meditativeness and stray into one’s own thoughts. In other words, its manifold music content is composed into an organic flow lacking any seams or ruptures, it is something like “Pärt-like” poetics (stylistically satiated), not a poetics of Polish avantgarde. Querela pacis is predominantly modern historicizing music, from which Godár’s specific language is felt (e.g. in details, something like his “harpsichord signature”). It is fairly possible that this is Godár’s best album for the time being.

Among the meditative pieces the movement Lament comes into focus, sung in Akkadian, which we could have heard in the movie The Landscape performed by Iva Bittová; I like this new arrangement more. And when some composers are referred to as being able to compose on lyrics from the telephone book, then Godár succeeded to do something similar, when he masterfully and cleverly set the encyclopaedic entry by Johann Amos Commenius to music (the movement A Soldier on the motives of the armanents enumerated in Orbis Sensualium Pictus).

So Querela pacis is a contemporary classical music with hit potential.

(Dalfar, http://dalfar.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/hudobny-zapisnik-4/#more-1961, August 1, 2011, on Querela pacis)

Auch das Oratorium Querela Pacis war mir neu. Diese CD trifft ebenfalls meinen Geschmack. Normalerweise bin ich moderner Klassik gegenüber sehr zurückhaltend, aber dieses Stück verbindet wechselnde Harmonik mit Rythmus und Klanggemälden und ist sehr interessant. Anders als viele moderne Musikstücke spricht es mich aber auch emotional an, was mir bei Musik sehr wichtig ist.

(Vienna pianist, http://www.vinylworld.sk/?p=902, June 2011, on Querela Pacis)

Thank you for your beautiful Querela pacis. (...) I found it very profound and was moved by it in the same way as I am by Faure’s Requiem and Gorecki’s Symphonie No3 Op 36. I look forward to playing it many times in the future.

The design, layout and format of the booklet is of equally high standard, and very interesting and informative. Congratulations to all involved upon the creation of a great work of art, I’m honoured to share a small place in it with my sculpture: Man in the Mud diorama.

(Peter Corlett, OAM, in a personal correspondence, June 2, 2011, on Querela pacis)

... I have a strong feeling, that the whole Vladimír Godár’s oeuvre will outlive his generation. My opinion is we haven’t had a composer of his calibre in Slovakia yet.

(Ivan Karas, vinylworld (http://www.vinylworld.sk/?p=902), May 10, 2011, on Querela pacis)

I can confirm that it is indeed gorgeous and really strong.

(Vlado B, vinylworld (http://www.vinylworld.sk/?p=902), May 1, 2011, on Querela pacis)

The composer Vladimír Godár is a kindred spirit for Lupták. The cellist presented Godár’s Passacaglia in his own transcription. Godár opens his work in a deep register, using chordal devices and dissonancies which lead into the theme of passacaglia à la Corelli or Pachelbel. The fantasia sensitively embellished with mellodies sounded as a persuasive and masterful piece. Lupták as a faithful performer of Godár’s music felt settled comfortable and played so impressively that the listeners did not even realize they were perceiving a 20th century composition.

Last but not least allow me to mention the excellent bulletin notes – obviously, as Vladimír Godár wrote them...

(Juraj Alexander, Hudobný život 5/2011, p. 5, on Passacaglia)

Gorgeous, impressive!

(Galipolly1, YouTube, May 2011, on Magnificat)

I think it is really a well-done thing. I recommend to listen to his older pieces, too.

(petere, vinylworld (http://www.vinylworld.sk/?p=902), April 28, 2011, on Querela pacis)

If you haven’t heard it yet, run where you can hear it. This work will outlive Godár’s generation. Remember this in 20 years.

(igi, vinylworld (http://www.vinylworld.sk/?p=902), April 28, 2011, on Querela pacis)

Especially heart-rending was Vladimir Godar's “Majkomasmalon”, where Bittova sang of flickering candles and falling rain, her voice hovering plaintively above gently rocking accompaniment.

(Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, February 21, 2011, on Maykomashmalon)

I'm melting.

(PanditNavah, YouTube, February, 2011, on Ecce puer)

Beautiful!...

(oubapo, YouTube, February 2011, on Ecce puer)

Muzyka lamie serce. / The music breaks one’s heart.

(neapplepi, YouTube, February 2011, on Ecce puer)

I have the same CD. It is beyond time and space!

(kenchouji, YouTube, February 2011, on Ecce puer)

Eerie. Gorgeous. I'm so glad I found this.

(Ellie49, YouTube, February 2011, on Magnificat)

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

(PanditNavah, YouTube, February 2011, on Magnificat)

beautiful choir, ugly orchestra... our world seems beautiful sometimes... but it will never be, no way. actually it is ugly! like in the piece. he cant lie with his music!

(PanditNavah, YouTube, February 2011, on Magnificat)

Beautiful

(IskalkaQuest2010, YouTube, February 2011, on Magnificat)

Um yeah I love the choir part, but I am not too keen on the strings, too bad they didn't harmonize with the choir.

(ledylanclair, YouTube, February 2011, on Magnificat)

Here is a melody that you can instantly turn on repeat – I've not heard so beautiful for a long time. Folk singer Iva Bittová from Czechoslovakia is widely known not only for a magic voice that continues in her violin, but also for experiments with various styles and for her great musical freedom. Like in this project with the Slovakian composer Vladimir Godar, which is unique in its kind, although there is only one such great melody, and I'm not surprised that it sounds at the beginning and at the end of the album. Apparently, slow-sad folk songs fascinate not only me.

((originally in Russian), busidoremikle, http://klangencircle.blogspot.com/2011/01/iva-bittova-vladimir-godar-mater-2007.html, January 14, 2011, on Maykomashmalon)

’So sweet a melody’. The Hildegard Choir, directed by Gulliver Ralston, with Emily Van Evera – solo soprano. An unusual programme of Christmas music for female voices, including Vladimir Godar’s haunting Ecce puer, one of the most effective modern works calling for chitarrone. It was a great pleasure to record it!

(Lynda Sayce, http://www.theorbo.com/recordings/recordings.html, after 2010, on Ecce puer)

[...] there were about 3,500 people present [at the concert...]

We did perform Magnificat. When I first heard the piece (on the CD Mater, which I bought after reading a review in Gramophone magazine), I loved it and wanted to perform it. [...] I was a bit worried about what they [the audience] would think of the piece. I included it in our Christmas concert, not expecting a very enthusiastic reaction. However, many singers in the choir really liked the piece right away. The soloist, Alina Ilchuk, also liked the way it was written very much. The reaction of the audience was surprising. I talked to many people and asked what they thought, and, yes, a few said that some of the audience didn't really understand it. But most people said they really liked the piece, and some actually said that it was their favorite piece on the program! They especially liked the full sound of the choral writing, and the way the crescendo builds in the choir "Magnificat" section. [...] I asked some musicians too, and many actually really liked the “strange” string parts, and thought they were very dramatic.

(Pavel Kravchuk, music director of Slavic Chorale, Sacramento, USA, in a personal e-mail, January 7, 2011, on Magnificat)

As the vocal crept up on me at work, I thought, Gorecki? But, it was clearly not Dawn Upshaw. And then I caught up with the orchestral notes. Very beautiful piece. Thanks.

(Richard Mitnick, listener of the WQXR, January 6, 2011, NYC USA, on Stabat Mater)

My last hope became attached to one of the best composers born in Slovakia. Vlado Godár has never disappointed me yet. Reasonably, most of all I was looking forward to his Dariachanghi’s Orchard, a myth for viola, cello and orchestra from 1987 (...) Fortunately, Godár’s piece was entrancing and abounded with ideas. Both the soloists, viola player Milan Radiè and Austrian cellist Florian Simma, rendered an excellent performance. I felt in the music the essential substance of classical music, something from the tradition of 18th and 19th centuries, melodical feeling, catchy character and refusal of experiments at all costs. Certainly, weaker instants and more boring passages occured, too, but one could sit through all this with a promise of “brighter futures”. Unambiguously, positive moments in the piece prevailed.

(Marek Danko, http://www.musicone.sk/kratka-bilancia-festivalu-ars-nova-cassoviae-2010/, December 13, 2010, on Dariachanghi’s Orchard)

One composer from Slovakia that I have recently discovered is Vladimir Godar. A CD of his music has come out on ECM (where else?). Even though his music might occasionally remind you of Paert or Gorecki it has a distinctive sound and his voice is unique. Especially noteworthy is his Slovakian Stabat Mater -- Stala Matka -- which is built around the astonishing, brooding alto voice of Iva Bittova.

(Ingram Marshall, November 11, 2010, http://ingrammarshall.blogspot.com/, on “Mater”)

It is gorgeous, indeed like everything touched by Vladimír Godár or Iva Bittová. I am playing it in clubs and radio since it originated. BTW, Godár can also write about music like almost nobody else, with philosophical view. He is a great personality.

(Jiøí Èerný, http://www.jiri-cerny.wbs.cz/Navstevni-kniha.html, October 14, 2010, on “Mater”)

...Vladimír Godár – Mater. I took it as impossible for a contemporary composer to write listenable “classical” music. But I must admit, it is possible (maybe because it is not typical, pure classical music). I like it very much.

(Fero, http://www.jiri-cerny.wbs.cz/Navstevni-kniha.html, October 13, 2010, on “Mater”)

These chords of Vladimír Godár, came into my heart and soul almost instantly, they went through all barricades, caressed the feelings of ‘incredible loss’. These astonishing music paralyzed my muscles and bones from the first notes, forced me to stop, prohibited to proceed and let lost friends in. Why is music so powerful? To unlock what is inside me? Ground.

Jack P. Kruf, http://jackkruf.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/ground/, June 26, 2010, on Ground from Concerto Grosso (played by Matangi Quartet))

The first time I heard this music I got so confused that I didn't pay attention outside and got hit by a car... Thank you for uploading this moving piece.

(BartManNL, www.youtube.com, March 2010, on Ecce Puer)

This music doesn't need any visuals... I played this piece quite loud at our church, people got quite startled at 3:50

(BartManNL, www.youtube.com, March 2010, on Magnificat)

Vladimír Godár once absolutely got me by his album “Mater” performed by Miloš Valent and Iva Bittová (released by the prestigious label ECM). Now I am listening to his Querela pacis and I am happy that here in Slovakia we have a composer comparable to Arvo Pärt... or better to mention Zbigiew Preisner, as he, too, often presents himself by film scores, similarly to Godár.

(Vlad, http://igalerie.cz/cs/music/art-music/502-vladimir-godar-2010-querela-pacis, on Querela pacis)

Mater, as the title might suggest, is an evocation of the maternal spirit, rendered with grace, fondness, and considerable beauty by Vladimír Godár. He employs the female voice together with violin and viola for a magical meditation, in this case brilliantly delivered by singer/violinist Iva Bittová.

(David Vogt, The Music Room of Gleanr, January 30, 2010, on “Mater”)

Lord it was hard to find this. I heard this music while watching the exellent Czech film, The Country Teacher. This music in this sequence was just stellar, expressing the feelings of the main characters on the brink of change.

(BioWolff, www.youtube.com, January 2010, on Ecce Puer)

I came across this while watching a Czech film called The Country Teacher. [Slovak composer] Vladimir Godár's music is heard during a couple of key moments of that film (which it effectively enhances) and surely leaves a lasting impression on the viewer/listener. It surely left that kind of impression on me because I felt the urge to find out who had composed the music played in the movie and if it was available for purchase somewhere. The album from which that music was culled is called Mater, was issued by ECM and features Czech folk goddess Iva Bittová singing Godár's simple yet beautiful and evocative melodies (with adequate yet mostly discreet instrumental backing).

(7th Seal, www.fiveeightforums.com, December 12, 2009, on Ecce Puer)

An absolutely magical recording [...] There are elements that recall the "holy minimalism" of Arvo Part and Henryk Gorecki as well as elements of Slavic folk music (the lead female singer Iva Bittova is not a classical/operatic singer but closer to a talented folk singer). The music broods with a dark East European sensibility... and drones with elements that recall medieval modal music or even aspects of Middle-Eastern music. This is a composer I want to hear much more of!

(Stlukestuild, http://www.brightcecilia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=486&page=111, October 31, 2009, on “Mater”)

Simply beautiful.
I'm glad it was such a long piece, as I did not want it to end. It was a fantastic way to start my morning in the office. Any more vocal pieces like that are very much appreciated.
Thanks again.

(Jonathan, listener of the WQXR, October 20, 2009, NYC USA, on Stabat Mater)

J'ai de Godar un premier CD "Concerto grosso & Partita", édité en 1989 et réédité en 1995, un disque de musique pour violoncelle de 1999, et ce superbe Mater. Si il en existe d'autres, je suis preneur des références (en commentaire – merci).

Dans la notice écrite par le compositeur lui-meme, il met en avant la cohérence des oeuvres, centrées entre autres autour de la Femme et de l'Eglise, à la fois comme bâtiment et comme lieu. Ce présent album a été enregistré en 2005 dans une église de Slovaquie.

Les oeuvres sont d'inspiration religieuse ou profane, dans différentes langues. Je ne plagierai pas ici l'excellente notice, mais j'apporte plutôt une présentation personnelle des sept oeuvres.

Maykomashmalon pour voix de femme, alto et violoncelle et le Magnificat, pour voix de femme, choeur, orchestre à cordes et harpe posent une ambiance de calme, de sérénité.

Puis vient ce que je considère comme le joyau de ce CD : une berceuse au chant doux, porté par le violoncelle, avec la voix magnifique au timbre parfaitement adapté d'Iva Bittova.

Ecce Puer repose sur un rythme envoutant et l'utilisation de la basse continue.

Le Stabat Mater déploie un chant plaintif qui n'est pas sans évoquer Gorecki, c'est très poignant, meme si la prise de son devient un peu plate.

Changement complet de ton avec Regina coeli, sur des 'alléluia' dansants; l'instrumentation fait penser à L'arpegiata de Christina Pluhar.

Le morceau final, Maykomashmalon, laisse entendre une voix plus lointaine, comme pour conclure progressivement.

En produisant ce disque, le label ECM continue à faire des merveilles.

(Sir Antoine Laurent, www.amazon.fr, October 16, 2009, on “Mater”)

Yes, the song is gorgeous. No, words are not sufficient to describe its beauty.

(Káya, September 13, 2009 na http://blog.dysmusax.cz/iva-bittova-vladimir-godar-mater/, on Ecce Puer)

The music is flawless... Does anyone know where more of this kind could be found? Thanks...

(lucita1979, www.youtube.com, September 2009, on Ecce Puer)

An original and very memorable score by Vladimír Godár brings an unusual and graceful mood to the film.

(www.ahashare.com, September 5, 2009, on The Country Teacher)

Mater de Vladimir Godar, Un CD qui mérite par comparaison subjective une attention égale au nouvel enregistrement d’Arvo Part : In principio. Vladimir Godar, compositeur slovaque né à Bratislava en 1956 est visiblement peu connu chez nous. C’est en faisant des recherches sur les dernières productions d’Iva Bittova que je suis tombé sur ce CD. La musique de Vladimir Godar plonge ses racines mystiques et profanes aux tréfonds des strates géologiques qui composent le substrat de notre histoire culturelle européenne. Une musique intense toute empreinte de spiritualité. Un ton méditatif et des textes d’inspiration biblique au sujet de la femme et de la maternité. Tout ici est équilibre, force et beauté dépouillée de tout artifice encombrant. Mais ce qui m’émeut avant tout dans cet enregistrement, c’est la magnifique voix d’Iva Bittova qui fait vibrer cette musique à la manière d’une onde cosmique qui aurait le pouvoir de traverser les murs épais qui nous séparent parfois des abimes de notre être intérieur.

(Eddy Maes, Le blog de la médiathèque de Bruxelles-Centre, August 5, 2009, on Mater)

How can any review speak of the depths of your soul... just listen to this and you feel the unwritten truth of humanity.
Nothing else but listening and swimming in the sound will ‘review’ this music and those who mold it with such care and honesty.

(P. G. Lee – peterlee, customers’ review, www.amazon.co.uk, June 3, 2009, on “Mater”)

An exclusive double album of the quartet of outstanding Slovak composers may be visually somewhat minimalist but on the first hearing an eloquent recording rich in content emerges.

[...] The second piece is Little Suite for Little David for electric violin, electric guitar, string orchestra and harpsichord by Vladimír Godár. The straightforward and sincere musical utterance of the composer couples [...] a folk idiom with rock music, but in a totally distinct way. Moreover, it evokes an illusion of dances from the Baroque suite using harpsichord and electric violin played by excellent Stano Palúch. Simple gorgeous tuneful lines and classical harmony go far beyond the common conventions of current composing and integrate elements of old musical language accessible literally to everybody.

(Peter Katina, Hudba, 1-2/2009, on Little Suite for Little David)

Where did you find Vladimír Godár’s music used in your latest film?
Two years ago I was writing the script and struggled with it quite much, because the subject was not easy for me. The Christmas was coming, so I entered the CD shop and looked for a gift for my wife. I read: Iva Bittová, Vlado Godár, Mater! Oh, my God, what a combination! I said to myself. I knew Godár as the film music composer to The Return of an Idiot and to Šulík’s films. I specially liked his music to The Garden, so I bought the record. I started to listen and the music enchanted me! And I realized, it had a very close relation to the subject I was considering. I guess Godár is ingenious composer and I am very glad he permitted us to use his music in the film. Without it the Country Teacher would not be what it is.

(Bohdan Sláma, October 4, 2008, koktail.pravda.sk/kultura, on “Mater”)

Vladimír Godár est un compositeur slovaque tres prolifique, talentueux et éclectique. Né en 1956, musicologue et historien de la musique, auteur de musiques de film et de musique classique, il perpétue, des symphonies a la fugue, des quintettes a sa Missa pastoralis (voir la liste de ses oeuvres et sa discographie), les anciennes formes tout en se situant dans le renouveau mélodique récent. Critiquant une notion trop facile de créativité, définissant l’art comme palimpseste, il s’inscrit donc dans la tradition vivante de la musique européenne : la musique ancienne (Dufay, De Vitry, Machaut), moderne, ou le folklore slovaque, l’inspirent donc continuellement, tout en assumant l’héritage de Bartok ou de ses compatriotes Ján Levoslav Bella ou Jan Albrecht.

Mater est en fait une sorte de cantate qu’a composée Godár a partir de pieces de forme (allant d’un trio voix/viole/violoncelle a un orchestre avec choeur) et d’inspiration différentes. Godár dit s’etre inspiré, pour les mettre en ordre, du cycle liturgique chrétien de la Vierge qui donne la vie (Magnificat, 2004), berce (Lullabies, 2002), enterre et pleure (Stabat Mater, 2001) puis se réjouit de la résurrection du Fils (Regina Coeli, 2003), mais aussi, avec une piece basée sur un chant yiddish (Maykomashmalon, 2005) et une autre sur un poeme de James Joyce (Ecce Puer, 1997), d’une nouvelle de Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1996) sur l’éphémere de la vie humaine. Les influences qu’on peut déceler, Monteverdi et surtout Arvo Pärt, se fondent dans un style d’une unité – dominée par le clavecin et le théorbe – étonnante et d’une originalité affirmée. L’ensemble de la partie chantée est, dans un dialogue souvent tres intense avec le violoniste Miloš Valent, assuré Iva Bittová, collaboratrice et inspiratrice de Godár.

Le climat est moderne – en restant tonal, que les novices en musique contemporaine n’aient crainte – mais séduit par cette union harmonieuse du profane et du sacré, par ce mariage des langues (du yiddish au latin en passant par le slovaque et l’anglais). On est d’emblée saisi par le ton a la fois harmonique et légerement décalé de Mater, qui nous force a nous suivre dans son monde, qui n’est autre que le nôtre coloré différemment. La voix d’abord printaniere, tout a la joie des commencements (Magnificat), puis grave et mélancolique, d’Iva Bittová, nous guide de frissons en frissons a travers une méditation ininterrompue. Superbe !

(Imelda, September 12, 2008, E-DEO, Chronique culturelle, http://e-deo.info/archives/3728, on “Mater”)

Vladimír Godár's Mater (ECM): The most beautiful music I've heard in some time.

(Carl Olson, July 30, 2008, Ignatius Insight Scoop, http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/music, on “Mater”)

Pleasant musical exploration of old sources

It's refreshing to see contemporary composers return to writing music with themes and making a conscious effort to search for beauty. If 20th century-music reflected the political and cultural disintegration of European society and its surrender to nihilistic forces of fascism, Nazism and communism, then one can read this composition by a Slovakian composer as a return to serenity and cultural well-being, a positive development.

The composer speaks in the liner notes of performing musical archaeology, delving into the past to come up with new insights. For much of this CD, he succeeds. There are moments of great beauty. The first song in Yiddish I found particularly striking. Soprano Iva Bittova has a voice of rare purity.

Where I feel it still falls a little short is in a certain blandness – a lack of bite. The Hallelujahs all sound a touch formulaic after a while, not inhabited by the same fervor and religious desperation that inspired the Baroque musicians whose work is being imitated. It's a little too sweet and occasionally borders on the edge of cute. We are tourists with Godar as our guide, visiting an ancient cathedral. He points out the various features and we wonder what it might have been like to worship there.

Still, this is very much worth listening to and I did enjoy it.

(Alan A. Elsner, Washington DC, customers’ review, www.amazon.com, July 28, 2008, on “Mater”)

If you were brought up Catholic, and you like music a little off the beaten path like Gregorian chant, you'll enjoy this album. Probably the best piece is Regina Coeli, powerfully sung by Iva Bittova in Latin. A simple melody, it repeats, yet changes it's harmony, with variations on it's musical theme. Towards the end, Iva's voice explodes in an Alleluia that will take your breath away. Several of the other songs are in Slovak; and are more moody and sonorous.

(Paul R. Knoll, customers’ review, www.amazon.com, July 16, 2008, on “Mater”)

Re: “If you were brought up Catholic, and you like music a little off the beaten path like Gregorian chant, you’ll enjoy this album.” I’m brought up as a protestant, and I highly enjoy and appreciate this excellent album. Music is above religion, so your religious upbringing has nothing to do with your value of musical quality.

(Terje Biringvad, April 26, 2009, amazon.com, on “Mater”)

Beautiful. Contemplative, lovely music. Aside from the staccato violins on track 2 (Magnificat), this is a sublime, ethereal listen.

(Shawn G. Welch, customers’ review, www.amazon.com, June 22, 2008, on “Mater”)

... a new film by Bohdan Sláma “Country Teacher”. It is a brilliant, though sometimes illogical film. Nevertheless, what’s fully exquisite is its camera, and powerful music by Vladimír Godár in this film.

... I have found the CD with the music, used in the film... It is slowly moving music, sorrowful, too much remote from cheap schmaltz. Namely Ecce Puer is one of best pieces I’ve ever heard. I do not listen to spiritual music, Paul Schwartz at most, but I was captured by this music.

Stop for a while and let the insistent strings, soft harpsichord and vocals of phenomenal Iva Bittová to embrace you. No reason to hurry, you won’t miss your funeral ;).

(Dysmusax’s Blog, April 8, 2008, on “Mater”)

Overall quality: A reverently hypnotic blend of the traditional and the avant-garde.

(Arsenio Orteza, Notable CDs, Worldmagazine, April 5, 2008, on “Mater”)

It will come as no surprise that this ECM release is a gem, beautifully recorded in a church in Slovakia, this is vaguely reminiscent in tonal quality of “Gothic Voices’s” “a Feather on the breath of god” although this is recorded with the Bratislava Conservatory Choir/Solamentre Naturali the overall effect is uncluttered and fluid.

The vocalist is, on most of the tracks, Iva Bittova who has a voice ideally suited to music of this style, which although written in this century sounds authentically old.

The major track on the disc though is the nineteen minute Stala Matka (Stabat mater) (2001) which features alto, violin and chamber orchestra and is magnificent.

(Finbar the looney “Charcots”, amazon.co.uk, March 11, 2008, on “Mater”)

La voz de Iva es majestuosa y las composiciones de Vladimír, fascinantes, un estilo clásico actualizado al siglo XXI con movimientos hilirantes y vertiginosos acompañados de odas más pausadas y todo ello interpretado por los excelentes músicos de la Solamente Naturali y la Choir del Conservatorio de Bratislava.

Siete maravillosos temas presentados en un digipack-libreto de lujo que no puede faltar en la discoteca de ningún aficionado a la música clásica contemporánea.

(Roberto Vales, Ultima Fronteria Radio, January 3, 2008, on “Mater”)

I don’t know how many copies of this album I’ve given to friends over the past couple of years. The Slovakian Vladimir Godar (born 1956) is one of those contemporary composers whose music pulls in all sorts of different influences, but with never the mind-numbing cynicism of some major-company, marketer-driven tosh that passes as ‘accessible’ new music. He has a distinctive musical voice that draws on folk music and, in particular, on the extraordinary voice and personality of his muse, Iva Bittova, who sings on this disc so beguilingly. "Mater" comprises six elements and groups numerous sources, both sacred and profane, under a general theme of 'woman'. Bittova's voice personifies the feminine in this music and is hugely expressive. “Mater” is of our own time, but also of all time.

(James Jolly, ECM New Sounds Dozen, 2007?, e-music, http://www.emusic.com/lists/showlist.html?lid=35286972&cs=1 on “Mater”)

Anfang dieses Jahres erschien die Kantate eines slowakischen Komponisten, der sich als Musikologe sowie als Filmkomponist längst einen Namen gemacht hat und jetzt ein Werk vorlegt, das tief in den Traditionen geistlicher Musik verankert ist und die Kantaten-Form mit einer emotionalen Kraft revitalisiert, die die kathartischen und theatralischen Elemente barocker Kirchenmusik mit zeitgenössischer Tonsprache verbindet...

Er hat keine katholische Messe geschrieben, sondern verbindet sakrale und weltliche Gesänge, lateinische und slowakische Textvorlagen, Jiddisches und Christliches zu einer überkonfessionellen Deutung des Themas. Dass Godar zunächst in 12-Ton-Technik und seriellen Kompositionsverfahren ausgebildet wurde, ist kaum mehr zu hören...

Der Archäologe verbindet den Gestus barocker Musik mit slowakischen Wiegenliedern, sein kraftvolles „Magnifikat“ ist eine Hommage an Monteverdis „Marienvesper“, zugleich erinnert es an Godars Vorbild Arvo Pärt. Godar legt über die traditionelle Intonation – mit großem Chor und Streichorchester – einen schrillen, zerreißenden Missklang, der ausgerechnet von einer Harfe angestimmt wird. So wird die Schönheit schockartig verletzt, aber gerade nicht in Frage gestellt. Im Gegenteil: Hinter der überlauten Störung tritt sie umso deutlicher hervor.

Ein theatralischer Zeigefinger? Ein Trick des Filmkomponisten? Mag sein, aber dagegen sprechen die kammermusikalischen Partien dieser suggestiv anrührenden Musik, vor allem der Gesang der von Iva Bittova, die ebenso in der klassischen wie in der Volksmusik zu Hause ist, und deren Stimme und Tonfall jenseits aller Künstlichkeit etwas Authentisches in sich trägt, das sie selber „meine eigene, ganz persönliche Folklore“ nennt.

Die Kantate „Mater“ wurde mit dem slowakischen Barock-Ensemble „Solamente Naturali“ aufgenommen, die Musiker spielen in der Tradition historischer Aufführungspraxis weich und transparent. Godars Werk wünschen wir, dass es sich unter den Kirchenmusikern herumspricht und irgendwann – wie heute Bach und Brahms, Arvo Pärt und Britten – zum Programm gehört, um in trüben und kälteren Novembertagen in angenehm geheizten Kirchenräumen Wärme und Trost zu spenden.

(Hans Happel, CD-KRITIK.DE, November 18, 2007, on „Mater“)

Godar mighty

What a beautiful vocal disc. The playing and singing are of such beauty and there is no effort required to love this album.

(mjbulmer, customer’s review, amazon.com, November 4, 2007, on “Mater”)

This music is incredible, and Pärt’s especially is beyond words. Pärt, Gorecki, and Tavener are the most famous “holy minimalists”, of course, but don’t forget, there are others, too: Alan Hovhaness, Hans Otte, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Vladimir Godár are good examples.

(Bob, response to article Holy Minimalism, published on August 29, 2006 on <unknowing.wordpress.com>, December 21, 2007)

Godar’s sort of Janacek’s heir, exploring the seam between Moravian/Slovak folk music and the classical tradition, and also ideas taken from Orthodox religious music. This recorded aptly in a small church. Music links poems/ works from various eras about motherhood and growing up. It's an austere, often gorgeous amalgam. Bittova has performed just about everything from folk to very avant ‘noise’ experiments; hers a really remarkable performance: moving, sometimes romantic with elements perhaps as close to Joan Baez as Maria Callas or medieval chant.

(egoodstein, Fave ‘07 Classical Albums, December 14, 2007, on The Multi Music Board, jhar26.proboards49.com, on “Mater”)

Lo último programado era Talismán, nocturno para violín, piano y violonchelo, del también contemporáneo Vladimir Godar..., y muy reconocido por su aporte a bandas sonoras para la cinematografía, con un estilo de reminiscencias de los Cárpatos, el Imperio Húngaro y Otomano. Empezaba así una perfecta sincronía entre violín y violonchelo, una rapidez absoluta pausada en pocos momentos. Hacia el final los tonos se suavizaron, pero el público estalló en reconocimiento...

(Francisco Valenzuela, Diario Provincia (Mexico), November 22, 2007, on Talisman)

Yet another musical revelation from Eastern Europe 

A very moving collection of small-scale works by a composer who has so far attracted little attention, unlike the better known Gorecki, Vasks and Arvo Part. Godar fuses his very approachable modern, but tonal, idiom to traditional forms, drawing on a variety of religious and secular texts The whole CD makes up a satisfying concert of just an hour, topped and tailed by the opening number.

The highlight here is the James Joyce poem Ecce Puer, reflecting on birth and death in a memorable but very simple strophic setting. Iva Bittova's artistry throughout is astounding.

ECM are to be congratulated for yet another revelation of the riches that exist in Eastern Europe, and showing how classical music revives itself, thanks to the fresh brooks that have been opened up during the past twenty years.

(customer, on QuickBuyer, September 30, 2007, on “Mater”)

It is a solemn and mesmeric work. Although Iva sings with discipline and remains faithful to Godár’s conception, her voice is so filled by energy, mother’s and woman’s feelings, that it overrides the difficulty of this music project. It is not true, that CD Mater can speak only to admirers of demanding or classical music. The Iva Bittová’s voice has transformed it to an extremely vivid, respectable, magical and emotional matter.

(Vladimír Vlasák, Romano Voïi, Sept. 21, 2007, on “Mater”)

... the latest from Slovakian composer Vladimir Godar. Find the CD called “Mater” here at amazon.com and audition a track or two. Simple beauty abounds. No lack of depth. Goosebump material.

(Because I am a classical music DJ, I spend four to six hours a day listening to classical music and exploring the latest releases. This one truly grabbed me.)

(Jennifer B. Foster, Classical Music Forum on Amazon.com, September 8, 2007, on “Mater”)

‘Wie kiest voor kunst, is nooit alleen, ook al zou hij dat willen,' vindt de Slowaakse componist Vladimír Godár (1956). Zijn cantate ‘Mater' is gewijd aan thema's als moederschap en geboorte, dood en wederopstanding, kortom de cirkel van het leven. (...) Voor de cd werkte Godár samen met ondermeer het Koor van het Conservatorium van Bratislava en de Tsjechische folk- en artrockzangeres Iva Bittová. Het is vooral deze laatste die ‘Mater' kleurt. Met haar soepele stem slaat Bittová een brug tussen de archaïsche schoonheid van Oost-Europese folklore en hedendaagse muziek, tussen Jiddische en Christelijke, wereldse en religieuze tradities. Haar indringende manier van zingen inspireerde Godár tot het schrijven van ‘Stálá Mater', een in het Slowaaks gezongen ‘Stabat Mater', een aangrijpende treurzang. Een ander hoogtepunt is het ‘Magnificat'. (...) Dit ‘Magnificat' is een viering van wat de componist omschrijft als ‘de grootste uitvindingen in de muziek: melodie, harmonie en polyfonie'. Een viering van het leven. Die stil maakt.

(Cornell Evers, Klassiekezaken, August 3, 2007, on Mater)

Vladimír Godár is a Slovak composer who describes his work as “a sort of musical archeology,” building on older forms like church and traditional music. Mater exemplifies his eclectic, yet original approach. It consists of seven sections; the first and last are his harmonization of a Yiddish folksong. Between those bookends reside a Magnificat, set of lullabies, James Joyce’s Ecce Peur, a Stabat Mater sung in old Slavic, and a Regina Coeli. The whole reflects a spiritual, if not mystical, outlook that pervades his style. But make no mistake; the sincerity of the music suggests the composer’s integrity. He’s no rider on the bandwagon of the phony “holy minimalist” school. His collaborator – no other word adequately describes her contributions – is Iva Bittová, a singer whose enormous range, from high soprano to a raw folkish bottom register, projects the texts with passionate involvement. The chorus plays a key role here, too, and each section of Mater benefits from Godár’s inventive scoring; sometimes a lean basso continuo with instruments such as the chitarrone, others with the full chamber orchestra. The engineers ably manage the church acoustic, so we get enough detail in a large airy space. If you like Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, you should love this one.

(Dan Davis, 2007 Golden Ear Music Awards, The Absolute Sound, August 2007, on “Mater”)

... I acquired the CD of the work [Mater] and have been listening to it over several weeks.

... Bittová's singing and Godár's writing not only held up through all of those playings, but with repeated hearings the music took on greater depth and profundity. Bittová, the small string ensemble and Dušan Bill's Bratislava Conservatory Choir under conductor Marek Štryncl are moving in the pieces that precede the “Stabat Mater”, their serenity interrupted only by expressionist instrumental stabs in the “Magnificat”. Godár’s “Ecce Puer”, based on the James Joyce poem (Of the dark past/A child was born;/With joy and grief/My heart is torn), has Bittová floating ethereally between string passages.

... Her voice is deceptively light and the articulation that Godár admires is virtually free of vibrato, but when Bittová does apply it in the “Stabat Mater”, her notes bloom with color an operatic soprano would be pleased to achieve. The joy of her expression in the “Regina Coeli”, with its rhythmic displacement of “alleluia”, is priceless. She is exquisite in passages teaming her with solo violinist Miloš Valent.

To people primarily interested in jazz, all of this may seem far afield. I can only refer you to the standard observed by Duke Ellington, who said, “There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind”. Mater is good, and Bittová is addictive.

(Doug Ramsey, Artsjournalweblock, Rifftides, July 11, 2007, on ”Mater”)

Vladimír Godár is a Slovak composer born in 1956 whose music bears a resemblance to Arvo Pärt’s and Henryk Górecki’s. Godár, like them, consciously rejected modernism in favor of harmonic and melodic simplicity, and his compositional palette is similarly circumscribed. The sound of his music is frequently closer to Górecki’s in its adherence to a more conventionally Western sense of dramatic momentum, but the forces for which he writes – in this case, soloist, choir, and chamber ensemble – are more like Pärt’s, so his music at times sounds like an amalgam of the two, but his most effective pieces strike an original path. His Magnificat for female voice, choir, string orchestra, and harp, is truly astonishing and freshly imagined. Describing it in detail would spoil the experience of hearing it for the first time; it’s sufficient to say that it demonstrates the independence and visionary quality of his musical thought. His Regina Coeli is a sassy and exuberant send-up of Renaissance conventions, and it shows a sense of humor not usually associated with Eastern European minimalist-mystics. Godár seems like a composer who’s still finding his way; he’ll be someone to watch out for if he’s able to nourish the unique voice that’s now in evidence in his best work.

Godár is fortunate to have an advocate in singer Iva Bittová, whose soulful, folk-inflected voice invests his music with the magic that its simplicity requires in order to fully come alive. The chamber orchestra Solamente Naturali and the Bratislava Conservatory Choir, led by Dusan Bill, turn in pure and committed performances. ECM’s sound is immaculate.

(Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide, on “Mater”)

A rich collection of works for voice (both solo and choral) and instrumental ensembles... There’s a distinctive, possibly major personality here and some welcome surprises.

(David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, on “Mater”)

The music is highly moving, emotionally affecting, and features an earth-bound tonality that can rock you to your roots in its unaffected elegance. Glimmers of melody pop up like familiar sweet smells, with accompanying rhythmic devices that feel so natural, yet sound so modern as to confound our normal expectations. For we know that this type of music, so bound to the structures of the past, should not be able to withstand some of the contemporary anachronisms that are thrust upon it, yet somehow they do; the feeling that Godár creates is one of a discovery, of a revelation of some sort of long-lost, integrally time-bound music that we have simply overlooked. Yet its very presentation disowns that theory, and though aware of its contemporary nature, we are more apt to listen with renaissance and baroque ears than with those subject to Webern and Mahler.

This is music that invites, even demands reflection, and yet passes as quickly as if reading a page-turner novel. You cannot but help being drawn into Godár’s intensely lyrical and profoundly touching, disturbing, and consoling world. This is what music should be – an elemental force that resonates in the depths of the human psyche.

(Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition, on “Mater”)

The music recorded here is touched by a variety of early music sources, together with a dose of ethnic flavor and the usual ECM house brand of late-century Euro-minimalism…

…music clearly belonging to the so-called “Holy Minimalist” school of Górecki, Tavener, and Pärt.…

You’ll never get this affable tune [Regina coeli] out of your head.

All told, this is an unusual entry in ECM’s catalog, and I was haunted by it. A striking release.

(Gimbel, American Record Guide, May/June 2007, on “Mater”)

Mater von Vladimír Godár ist trotz Integration volkstümlicher Lieder und Texte ein Kunstwerk. Der Hörer öffnet die Tür zur Form und schließt sie nach Verklingen des letzten Tones wie nach einem sonntäglichen Kirchenbesuch. Es bleibt die Erinnerung an das Bad in seinen Klängen, welches Spuren im Gedächtnis der Seele hinterlässt, die von neuen Klängen überspült in Vergessenheit geraten.

(Jutta Riedel-Henck, 19.–23. Mai 2007)

Godár déboulonne d’anciennes structures dont il amalgame les éléments a l’héritage musical folklorique et liturgique slovaque. Son style s’inscrit dans le continuum historique allant de Bartók a Ligeti. Mater est une oeuvre intense où la collision entre le discours des maîtres de la Renaissance et le mysticisme des Pärt, Pendercki et Taverner se concrétise.

(La Scena musicale, May 2007, on “Mater”)

Have any of you ever heard of this composer, Vladimir Godar?

Or listened to his CD/compostion, “Mater”?

I just bought this work/CD and I love it!

The music sounds like the 18th centuary meets the 21st centuary.

If you like Bach, and if you like Gorecki, you will love this CD, because it sounds like a combination of both composers styles. Yet, at the same time, it is also unlike anything I have ever heard before.

This CD/Compostion has Voice, (singing in Slovakian) Violin, Viola, Harpsichord, Harp, Double-Bass, and a sweet-sounding, heavenly Choir of Slovakian voices. It is some of the best new music I have heard in years.

...

I think you will enjoy this CD, especially if you like Gorecki. Like I said, it is refreshing to hear new music like this. It will restore your faith in “modern composers”, and may even spur some people to branch out and explore new, modern 21st centuary music.

(Customer on Talk Classical, www.talkclassical.com, May 19, 2007, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, on “Mater”)

It is hard to avoid comparisons to Arvo Pärt, but I see that as a good thing. In fact a very good thing. Truly a beautiful recording and one worth owning. (I know this makes me sound old-fashioned and American, but such is the tyranny of facts.)

(by Brian, http://outwestarts.blogspot.com/, Recordings of the week, May 13, 2007, on “Mater”)

I predict that this CD is going to be the “next big thing” in the classical world. Reminiscent in different ways of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Górecki’s Symphony #3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs), and the works of Giya Kancheli and Arvo Pärt, Mater is a synthesis of the old and the new, and although it speaks softly most of the time, I think it will have a powerful impact on sensitive listeners…

Godár's juxtapositions are striking but never jarring. The Regina Coeli, for example, sounds like Monteverdi filtered through Slovak folk music. Here and elsewhere on this disc, one is struck by the singing of Iva Bittová, a vocalist who can sound like a little girl, a gypsy folk-singer, or a grown up classical artist from one moment to the next. I think that she and Björk would have a lot to discuss…

Moving but not morbid, thought-provoking but not pretentious, challenging but not forbidding, Mater deserves to be one of the success stories of 2007. I think it will be on many “Best of the Year” lists come December. I know it will be on mine!

(Steve Schwartz, 2007, Classical Net Review, on “Mater”)

There are hints of Arvo Pärt's devotional minimalism here, with Gorecki and Monteverdi not far behind, but the decidedly Slavic tinge to the music makes it unique… There are repeated melodies and instrumental motifs, and the music has great character; it is immensely moving. The Czech singer Iva Bittova is neither an opera nor pop singer; her singing is “cultivated folk.” Her voice has intense colors: it can be warm as well as edgy, it throbs but can be occasionally as cool and vibrato-free as a Celtic storyteller. One can report on what goes on musically here – the way the strings stab dissonantly at times, the way long melodies keep showing up, the way the chorus interjects and takes over in one selection – but the emotional impact is more important and can't be described. Suffice it to say that Godar never lapses into sentimentality or bathos, but he does touch the soul. A ravishing, important CD.

(Robert Levine, Editorial Reviews, Amazon.com, on “Mater”)

Destined to become the new Górecki

If you enjoy the works of Arvo Pärt, Górecki or John Tavener, then read no further and simply add this amazing album to your cart. I heard it on the radio and the announcer seemed to know that many people would be calling in for details of this album so he gave all the information needed to purchase it. I ordered my copy immediately. The singer may not have the most gorgeous voice; hers is more suited for pop music or singing folk songs, but the passion in her voice will astonish you. Every track of this album has a meditative, mesmerizing quality, reminiscent of Górecki’s 3rd. However, it is not as minimalist. One track brings to mind Baroque music. Having little knowledge of Godar’s work, I was pleasantly surprised by the striking lyricism of his music. If you are searching for modern music with atonal dissonance, then this is probably not something you'd probably enjoy. It’s not actually a crossover album either. I would simply place this album in a category all by itself. I don’t think there is anything like it out there. The first aspect that will strike you is the simplicity of Bittova’s voice. She has an unusual child-like timbre, somewhat smoky. Every track features her singing the compositions with the utmost commitment. The composer/singer collaboration is very evident. This is one of those albums that is immediately accessible and you will listen to it many times. The cover of the CD contains a quote from Rob Cowan, BBC Radio 3, “It’s as if Janacek, Gorecki and Monteverdi have settled on a universal language. A wonderful listen.” WONDERFUL indeed and quite sublime...

(Customer Reviews: Amazon.com, May 6, 2007, on “Mater”)

Rich, raw and uplifting music reveals an important new voice…

[Godár] uses a vocabulary in the works recorded here that will inevitably recall Górecki, and also at times Pärt and Tavener, though the music’s emotional intensity, the particular way in which repetition is used and the use of certain sonorities and chords, relate much more to the Polish composer than the other two, very noticeably in the Stabat mater; aficionados of these composers will certainly enjoy what is recorded here. But though the music may recall them, it does not sound like any of them for any length of time: Godár has his own way of saying what he wants to say, which is, for him, intimately connected with what he calls “musical archaeology”, specifically Slovak culture, musical, literary and religious. […]

There are conscious references to the Baroque at various points but folk monody – the archetypal lullaby of the mother – is what really holds all this material together.

Godár's transparent but strong style is greatly helped in this by the powerfully raw voice of the amazing Iva Bittová, but also by the precision of Solamente naturali and the Bratislava choir. I predict a great future for this recording.

(Ivan Moody, Gramophone, May 2007, on “Mater”)

Vertical integration – amalgamating styles and idioms from the past into contemporary performance – has long been a strategy of avant-garde jazz musicians such as David Murray and Steven Bernstein. Slovak composer Vladimir Godár uses that strategy in this dazzling original work for female voice, period instruments, and mixed choir. He calls it “musical archaeology”, a response to what he sees as the classical avantgarde’s ahistorical approach to music, right down to pitch.

Seeking to convey Christianity’s notion of the human life cycle (birth, death, and resurrection) in a way that honors history, Godár has fashioned arrangements based on a traditional Yiddish folksong, the “Magnificat”, Slovak lullabies, the 12th century “Regina Coeli” (“Queen of Heaven”) Catholic prayer, and James Joyce’s “Ecce Puer” (“Behold the Boy”). Bringing those arrangements to life at a 2005 recording session in St. George Church in Sväty Jur, Slovakia are the riveting Czech singer Iva Bittová, the ensemble Solamente Naturali (featuring violinist/violist Miloš Valent and conducted by Marek Stryncl), and the Bratislava Conservatory Choir under choirmaster Dusan Bill.

Formats range from voice, viola, and violoncello (the brief opening and closing versions of “Maykomashmalon”) to voice, choir, string orchestra, and harp (the nine-and-a-half-minute “Magnificat,” based on an 18th-century Slovak translation of the Bible and the intonations used by Monteverdi and Cabezon in their versions). Doublebass, chitarrone, and harpsichord make appearances, as well. Through the course of seven pieces, Bittová – the incarnation of the “Mater” – takes us through all the feelings expressed by the “Woman-Mother who gives life, shapes, buries and mourns and praises.”

The purity and depth of her voice eliminate the need for histrionics to achieve the powerful emotional effects Godár underscores with settings now subtly minimalist, now dramatically orchestral. This occasionally wrenching time-travel through human passions takes place in airy aural space, with all elements in tight relationship but backed off slightly on the soundstage, as if we are standing at the doorway and all is reverberating in the grand cathedral before us.

(Derk Richardson, Classical Music Reviews, The Absolute Sound, April/May 2007, on “Mater”)

Such a music saturates man and strengthens his body. The recording of a composition burns into his interior as into some biological hard disc, emotionality, harmony, empathy being its software. An individual then may replay it again and realize limits of his being as well as unbounded space of the universe, which perhaps will be at his disposal some day.

Godár doesn’t look for a “topical isuue”, sound of the time, musical progress, never heard originality with his collection of pieces Mater. He urgently deals with eternity.

(Ivan Hartman, HN.IHNED.CZ, April 30, 2007, on “Mater”)

Fervency, purity, emotional strength of motives, sometimes even dramatical and almost minimalistic orchestration and apparent distinctive contribution of a singer breathe out from the recording; all this had a magical effect in the St. Anna Church.

Harmony, commitment to the contents and substantial performing contribution, with which Bittová approaches the Mater… with a strong inner consciousness of a musical chronology and with a deep feminity, result in a unique effect with extremes from pain to excited joy. All spectators, like feeling to participate in something extraordinary, contributed to the Mater concert being a genuine event.

(Ondøej Konrád, Lidové noviny, April 30, 2007, on “Mater”)

…Godár’s typically sensitive approach towards musical history. …music, which does not shock by its rapidity or pretentiousness, nevertheless, it possesses in itself a tremendous strength and almost dangerous beauty.

“And now all once again,” says [Iva Bittová] before the ultimate encore. She meant it as a joke, obviously. However, if she meant it seriously, no one of the listeners, crowded then in front of the stage, would be angry. But it would be unbearably too much beauty for one evening.

(Juraj Kušnierik, .Týždeò 18, April 2007, on “Mater”)

Kantate der besonderen Art

Superlative reizen bekanntlich dazu, den so überschwänglich ausgezeichneten Gegenstand eines kritischen Blickes zu würdigen: Hält das, was da so vollmundig versprochen wurde, dem Test auch wirklich stand?

Gedanken dieser Art dürfte das renommierte BBC Music Magazine mit einer seiner letzten Ausgaben wohl ausgelöst haben. Da war in der Besprechung des Albums Mater, der aktuellen Aufnahme der tschechischen Sängerin Iva Bittová zu lesen: "Bittova will break your heart."

Wer sich dann die auf ECM New Series erschienene CD mit Mater, der Kantate des slowakischen Komponisten Vladimír Godár, anhörte; die ganz eigene Mischung aus Barock und osteuropäischer Folklore, die Verbindung von Innerlichkeit und Intensität auf sich wirken ließ - der konnte das Urteil des BBC Music Magazines schon nachvollziehen. Vollends einstimmen in das Lob des englischen Klassik-Magazins, musste man allerdings nach dem gestrigen Konzert in der Berliner Kirche St. Johannes-Evangelist:

So homogen fügte sich Bittovás Stimme in die Klänge des Kammerochesters Solamente Naturali unter der Leitung von Marek Štryncl, so vertraut wirkte das Zusammenspiel zwischen Bittová und dem Solo-Violinisten Miloš Valent. Welche Superlative in den Besprechungen des Konzerts zu lesen sein werden, darauf darf man mit Spannung warten.

(April 4, 2007, Klassik Akzente, http://www.klassikakzente.de/kantate_der_besonderen_art_122977.jsp, on “Mater”)

Neue Musik oder Alte Musik? Die Kategorienfrage wird zur Nebensache bei der berührenden Kantate “Mater” des slowakischen Komponisten Vladimír Godár […] Das Ergebnis ist eine Kopf wie Bauch ansprechende Kantate zwischen den musikalischen Genres, meisterlich aufgeführt vom Chor des Konservatoriums Bratislava und dem Kammerorchester Solamente Naturali. Im Mittelpunkt steht die außergewöhnliche Stimme von Iva Bittová.

(Oliver Hochkeppel, Süddeutsche Zeitung Nr. 76, March 31, 2007, on “Mater”)

Mater – exklusives Konzert in Berlin

Am 03. April ist es soweit: Mater, die Album-Entdeckung auf ECM New Series, wird in einem exklusiven Konzert in Berlin vorgestellt. In der kleinen, aber feinen St. Johannes Evangelist Kirche in Berlin Mitte werden Iva Bittová und das Kammerorchester Solamente Naturali Stücke des slowakischen Komponisten Vladimír Godár vorstellen.

Ein Insider-Tipp und Versprechen auf ein außergewöhnliches Erlebnis, denn die überzeitliche, ja überirdische Schönheit von Godárs Musik mit ihren Anklängen an Volksmusik, ihrer Schlichtheit und Natürlichkeit dürften sich geradezu ideal verbinden mit dem reduzierten Kirchenschiff der St. Johannes Evangelist Kirche und seiner intimen Atmosphäre.

(March 12, 2007, Klassik Akzente, http://www.klassikakzente.de, on “Mater”)

Entering the world of “Mater”, Godár’s hour-long rumination on the subject of motherhood, is rather like stepping into the living continuum of music history. Drawing you into a labyrinth of musical memories, this outstanding overview of the composer's recent work work references everything from the ancient intonational patterns of folk music and archetypal Baroque-like textures to the ghostly remembrance of a Monteverdi madrigal and startling dissonances. If this suggests that “Mater” is no more than an assemblage of cultural bricolage, this certainly isn’t the case. There’s a powerfully distinctive authorial voice at work here, and a rich arterial force courses its way through the collection. […]

The Slovak composer’s setting of the Magnificat […] describes a measured increase in density and dynamics, blossoming in a final section of quite resplendent grandeur.

[…] the most substantial work in the collection is the setting of Stálá matka (“Stabat Mater”), which mines a seductive palette of sound from hushed contemplation to impassioned outburst. […]

Bittová is a thrilling protagonist. I can think of no other singer whose voice traverses such a vast emotional range, caressing the lyric one moment, raging and wailing the next.

(Peter Quinn, International Record Review, March 2007, on “Mater”)

It’s as if Janacek, Gorecki and Monteverdi have settled on a universal language. A wonderful listen.

(Rob Cowan, BBC Radio 3, March 2007, on “Mater”)

Ein sehr interessantes klassisches Werk, welches sicher auch Hörern gefallen kann, die sich Klassik nicht unbedingt auf die Fahne geschrieben haben. Schöne Melodien, schöne Stimme, zumeist ruhige Lieder mit viel Atmosphäre – gelungen.

(Tobi, www.mucke-und-mehr.de, on “Mater”)

Die historisch-folkloristisch geprägte Melodieführung Godárs, die mystisch wirkende Alt-Stimme der Bittová, das Instrumentalensemble Tiefe, die auch nicht religiösen Hörern unter die Haut gehen dürfte. Ein ebenso traditionsbewusstes wie modernes Meisterwerk, das den in Osteuropa längst populären Namen Godár und Bittová hoffentlich auch anderswo die hochverdiente Beachtung eintragen wird.

(www.global-mojo.com, on “Mater”)

Très intéressant, très surprenant : A DÉCOUVRIR

Un mélange musical étrange : sur un fond de musique ancienne, une écriture contemporaine intéressante. Le tout bien servi par un choeur aux voix superbes. Et Iva BITTOVA, la soliste, à la voix imprégnée de son folklore national... Le résultat vaut le détour chez votre disquaire.

(Anonym, LYON, http://musique.fnac.com/a1927938/Vladimir-Godar-Mater-CD-album, March 1, 2007, on Mater)

Die Kantate “Mater” beginnt ruhig, meditativ, melancholisch und schwingt sich in “Regina Coeli” zu hymnischer Leidenschaft auf. Sie erinnert an den Beusuch einer alten Kirche, wo man im kühlen Zwielicht die Jahrhunderte ruhen und wiedererwachen spürt. Auch wenn gegen Ende hin “Mater” durch häufige thematische Wiederholungen etwas eintönig zu werden droht, ist Godár doch ein ungewöhnliches und hörenswertes Experimenten gelungen.

(Heidi Spirk, Kulturzeit, 27. 2. 2007, on “Mater”)

Mater meditates on Christianity

VLADIMÍR GODÁR's new CD, Mater, counts as yet another fascinating release by arguably the most prominent and versatile Slovak composer today. (...)

(Maykomashmalon) The breathy opening string solo evokes the sound of a shofar, and Bittová's pure tone imitates Irish folk music, which turns out to be one of the CD's recurring themes. (...)

(Magnificat) As the choir emits soft, drawn-out repetitions of the word 'magnificat', the strings chime in with sharp, jarring disonances that express the burning anticipation of the Lord's arrival. This back-and-forth between the choir and strings continues for quite some time, and, although the music gradually builds louder, it never loses its repetitive, meditative centre. (...)

The track Ecce Puer is where the CD's concept switches from contemplations about life to lamenting death. (...) As the harpsichord roles chords, Bittová's delivery turns especially mellifluous, carefully descending each line and, at times, uttering painful words with a thin squeak. (...)

(Stabat Mater) Many times, the chamber orchestra floods forward with the melody, but pulls back once it reaches the peak of the phrase. Like the Magnificat, this is repeated over and over throughout the piece by singer and ensemble, both of whom deny the listener what's expected. The result is the almost torturous feeling of having your emotions "on the tip of your heart" without hearing them fully expressed. (...) But more than that, it is a confession of faith by a great music historian and composer, as well as proof that the tradition left behind by Slovakia's greatest modern composers – Eugen Suchon and Ján Cikker – is very much alive and well.

(Stefan M Hogan, Culture & Society, February 19, 2007, on Mater)

Es gibt mittlerweile eine ganze Reihe von Komponiste, die im Rückgriff auf alte Volks- und Kirchenmusik eine offenbar sehr ausgeprägte Sehnsucht nach kontemplativer Spiritualität befriedigen. Dass das nicht unbedingt auf Kosten der künstlerischen Redlichkeit gehen muss, zeigt nach Arvo Pärt oder John Tavener nun auch Vladimir Godar. Die Kompositionen des Slowaken kreisen in den traditionellen Formen des Stabat Mater und Magnificats um das Leben und Leiden der heiligen Jungfrau Maria. Iva Bittova, bisher bekannt vor allem als famose Interpretin von Janacek-Liedern, singt mit einer Innerlichkeit und Intensität, mit der sie auch die Wiegenlieder, schon gar die volksliedhafte Auferstehungsfeier zur denkbar prachtvollsten Entfaltung bringt.

(ECM, WirtschaftsWoche, February 17, 2007, on “Mater”)

Warum sollen sich nur die zeitgenössischen Interpreten den Kosmos der Alten Musik erschließ und nicht auch die Komponisten? (…)

Auf den ersten Blick scheinen seine bei uns bislang nahezu unbekannten Werke aus der Feder alter Barock- oder Renaissancemeister zu stammen. Bei genauerem Hinhören aber merkt man, wie die verschiedenen Stimmen der Vergangenheit sich zu einer Musik von ganz eigener Art zusammenfinden.

[Godar hat] alle avantgardistischen Kompositionstechniken über Bord geworfen und seinen „archäologischen“ Stil entwickelt. […]

Godars Kompositionen sind meditative Stimmungsbilder, die an die Andacht und Getragenheit eines leise gemurmelten Gebetes erinnern. […]

Sehr sehr schön klingt das, wenn Godar und Bittova die archaische Wirkung von alten slowakischen Schlafliedern auskosten. Zu schön wahrscheinlich für die Ohren von so manchem Avantgarde-Komponisten. Deren Musik wiederum denunziert Godar im Booklet etwas selbstherrlich als überflüssige musikalische Artistik, und das ist eigentlich nicht so schön von ihm. „Jeder Klang trägt die ganze Geschichte mit sich“, heißt Godars Lieblingssatz von Thomas Mann, und das müsste doch eigentlich genauso gut für die musikalische Avantgarde gelten. Vielleicht ist Vladimir Godar aber auch vom Teufel geritten, denn dem hat Thomas Mann sienen Satz schließlich in den Mund gelegt. Aber um Teufelswerk zu sein, dafür ist Godars Regina coeli, das Iva Bittova gemeinsam mit dem Chor des Konservatoriums von Bratislava singt, einfach viel zu schön. Trotzdem bliebt natürlich zu hoffen, dass unter den zeitgenössischen Komponisten auch noch Modernisten zu finden sind, schon alleine, damit die musikalischen Archäologen künftiger Jahrhunderte auch in unserer Epoche noch etwas ihr ganz Eigenes finden können.

(Niels Kaiser, Mikdado Spezial, February 17, 2007, on “Mater”)

Much of the Barcarolle is somewhere between the meditative minimalism of Pärt and ‘ambient’ music, though periodically there are more musically active episodes that might have wandered in from earlier forms of Impressionism. The whole has an atmosphere of mist-shrouded beauty that is quite beguiling. The Dies Irae gets a thorough workout here in a 25-minute fantasia for violin and piano which sounds curiously like the sort of thing Ronald Stevenson might do with the same material. The suite of tiny movements is attractive, falling somewhere between neoclassicism and Bartók, while the Variazioni facili is a delicate and deceptively simple work. The Meditation returns to the Shostakovich-derived Kancheli mood of the Barcarolle, sharing with it a sombre, insistent quality and brooding atmosphere.

(??? net, on CD Barcarolle)

Musikalische Archäologie nah bei Pärt und Gorecki, feierlich, grandios in sich ruhend.

(USt, CD-Tipps, Rheinischer Merkur, February 8, 2007, on “Mater”)

…la musique de Godar est a` la fois grave et rayonnante, et détient en elle des émotions foisonnates. Elle sera le réceptacle de votre vécu, de votre foi (ou de votre absence de foi), de votre joie profonde ou passage`re, de votre tristesse profonde ou passage`re.

(www.m-la-music.net/article.php3?id_article=2490, Febr. 4, 2007, on “Mater”)

Finalmente un compositore che dichiara di non credere nell’avanguardia! Era ora ora che qualcuno avesse il coraggio di ammetterlo! (…)

In sostanza “Mater“ e` un lavoro bello, riuscito, fuori dagli schemi, ma dentro la storia, con musiche che prendono l’anima davvero tutto dell’anima!

(http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/review_print.php?id=1311, on “Mater”)

Mit “Mater” von Vladimir Godar hat das noch junge Jahr 2007 ein erstes musikalisches Highlight zu bieten.

Der in slowakischer Sprache gehalten Musikzyklus ist sicherlich grundsätzlich der Klassik zuzurechnen, dürfte aber auch für Rockmusikfreunde interessant sein, die gerne einen Blick über den Tellerrand hinaus wagen.

Die erdige Stimme von Iva Bittova entfaltet einen herben Zauber, der weit weg ist von divenhaften Kolleraturen.

Wer die Alben von “Dead can dance” und Lisa Gerrad im Regal stehen hat, sollte sich unbedingt mit dieser Aufnahme hier vertraut machen.

*****

(Udo Kaube, Erstes Highlight 2007, 2. 2. 2007)

Der Komponist hat eine wunderbare Energie zwischen der Sängerin, dem Chor und den Musikern hergestellt. Überhaupt besitzt diese CD eine mystische und bizzare Schönheit, die nachdenklich stimmt. Vladimír Godár ist Komponist, den man im westlichen Europa noch kaum wahrnimmt – und dies ist sicher auch sprachbedingt.

Auf “Mater” wird uns sein musikalisches Spektrum berührend bewusst und den Namen “Godár” werden wir in Stein meisseln. Modern und spannungsgeladen, nachvollziehbar erfrischend, traurig sinnend, überraschend präsent und atmend. (…)

Doch auch so ist dieses “Mater” ein Juwel und die anmutigste Produktion für diesen Winter.

(Lukas Vogelsang, ensuite – kulturmagazin, No. 49, Januar 07, on “Mater”)

Warm, teder, maar met een keur aan expressieve mogelijkheden, dat is de stem van Bittová. En Godár? Een grootmeester!

(http://ecmrecords.nl, on “Mater”)

Denn Godárs Musik hat eine emotionalen Tiefe, wie man sie sonst nur selten – etwa bei Kollegen wie Arvo Pärt – findet.

(http://www.klassikakzente.de/stimme_klarheit_tiefe, on “Mater”)

Knapp zehn Minuten genügen, um den Zuhörer in Bann zu schlagen – und dort zu halten. (…) Es ist eine berückende Vorstellung, sie stellt Godár in eine Reihe mit den großen Glaubensklangmagiern und Wohlklangvereinfachern Arvo Pärt oder John Tavener. Mehr als diese beiden aber bedient sich Godár grandios selbstverständlich in der Musikgeschichte und fügt die Bruchfundstücke in sein eigenes Komponieren ein. So entsteht eine Art musikalische “lingua franca”, die mit Fug und Recht den Anspruch der spirituellen Universalsprache erhebt. Godár selbst nennt sein Komponieren gelegentlich “musikalische Archäologie”. Sie gräbt auch Richtung Zukunft.

(Andreas Obst, Fono Forum, on “Mater”)

The atmosphere of timeless, serenely enraptured mysticism is maintained beautifully, and is most mesmerising in the Magnificat with its gorgeous vocal line hovering over ghostly tolling and a low string drone. Being on ECM, the sound is predictably impeccable, doing full justice to Godár's ravishing scoring and the superb performances: Bittová will break your heart in the Stabat Mater.

(Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine, February 2007, on “Mater”, both performance and sound acquired five stars (out of five))

(…) Godár’s creation is the stuff of – to use a word I have used seldom in more than 30 years of music writing – genius. No contest for most played album of 2006.

(Ken Hunt, Jazzwise Magazine, Dec 06/Jan 07, on “Mater”)

There’s a real edge to that voice that I was initially surprised by, but it’s won me round.

(Louise Fryer, The Cowan Collection, BBC Radio, December 31, 2006, on Regina coeli)

Godár is a gifted composer and a formidable musical intelligence, reaching deep into Slovak, religious and musical history for inspiration. These pieces all have a melancholy, at times mournful feel, and can range from achingly beautiful to numbingly tedious. It's not for everyone, though connoisseurs of regional contemporary music will have a feast…

(Kuznik, The Prague Post, 13. 12. 2006, on “Mater”)

Einfachheit scheint überhaupt ein Schlüsselwort für Godárs Idiom, das an die elementare Gestik eines Arvo Pärt gemahnt, aber auch an die von Dissonanzeinschüssen geschüttelte lapidare Trauer- und Einsamkeitsmystik Gija Kanchelis. Das vermeintlich unbefangene, aber zweifellos äußerst reflektierte Hantieren mit altertümelnd (vor)tonalem Mustern erweckt gelegentlich auch den Eindruck, es handle sich um Musik eines “Sonntagskomponisten”, doch gehört Naivität zu den gewissermaßen strategisch hervorgerufenen Kunst-Komponenten dieser vexatorischen Arbeit, die in all ihrer Vielfältigkeit schließlich den Anschein von “Natürlichkeit” gibt, wenn auch einer von rätselhaft-melancholischem Ausdruck durchzogenen.

(Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, Godár-Kantate “Mater”. Ein Glücksfall, Frankfurter Rundschau, 11. 12. 2006)

Sa musique, ample et troublante, parcourue de longs frissons silencieux, s'écoute avec élan, émotion et bonheur. Elle parle directement au coeur, comme une prédiction intime, de celles que les meres confient dans un baiser a leurs enfants.

(??? net, 17. 11. 2006, on “Mater”)

No one can deny this work a huge dose of mysticism. A spiritual profundity, verging on fatefulness, is present at every moment (…) A combination of string orchestra, female voice, choir and old instruments results in a sound, not lacking depth and strength, not attributable to any period and thus possessing the ambition to become eternal.

(Juraj Vitéz's Gramophone, 13. 11. 2006, on “Mater”)

Godár's music doesn't pretend anything, it doesn't glide over the surface, but it reaches your depth – and this is what I have always been interested in.

(Iva Bittová, interviewed by Pavel Maloviè, Týždeò 38/2006, 18. 9. 2006, on “Mater”)

Even on a small scale (…) Godár somehow uncovered himself in his entirety: his musical language is fragile and translucent, he wants just to outline some points and planes, helping us to guess the remainder of the picture. As far as I know, Godár has never written a pop-song. Despite this his style is compatible very well with a contemporary listener: he creates once reconciled, another time tensed audio areas, the relations lead to atmosphere of meditative music, minimalism.

It is difficult to be simple

However, the Mater project presents the Slovak composer thoroughly – in a spiritual sense. With a cautious attentive simplicity it looks as if Godár had attempted it with music from the beginning, as if he retreated from all that romantic, modern and post-modern compost. Naturally the name of the marvelously successful Estonian author Arvo Pärt came upon, sharing with Godár the soul of an “old-believer” – in both music and faith. The ambience by both is filled by Christianity, as well as mysticism. Humbleness is balanced with courage for radical sound by Pärt. Godár is lacking this: yet he has a graciousness of Slovak folk carvings and confidence in a repeated cycle of clear chords.

(Pavel Klusák, Týden 37/2006, 11. 9. 2006, on “Mater”)

Music flows here very slowly, as though with peculiar humbleness and it is provided with unrepeatable charm by the sound of old instruments in the hands of top musicians. Sometimes you forget it originated in this century…

(Andrea Sereèinová, Hudba III. Q, 2006, on “Mater”)

Abundant in church atmosphere, civil spirituality and economy at the same time, yet seldom beyond the margin of kitsch. It is not easily digested music and not appropriate for inattentive listening. However, with time and space accorded, we may find unanticipated depth in it.

(Sebastian Kantor, 10. 07. 2006, http://www.musiczone.cz/recenze-1501/vladimir-godar-mater, on “Mater”)

The crucial composition is Mother Stood, setting the lyrics of the Slovak translation of Stabat Mater coming from the 18th century, abounding in gloominess appropriate to the subject, and in harsh strings, whose motif comes back even in the reconciliated ending. But as soon as in the second exhilarating Magnificat the majestic mood is disturbed by piercing attacks of scratchy violins, revealing that the cycle of life has not only its beginning deserving the annunciation, but also an unavoidable ending.

This unique work shows that even in the time of insane consumerism it is still necessary to meditate on fundamental questions, because we cannot escape the death. Iva Bittová displayed her qualities in Mater, her performance is compelling, plausible, which is crucial for such an essential subject.

(Alex Švamberk: Iva Bittová spojila síly se skladatelem Godárem. In: Novinky.cz, July 10, 2006, on “Mater”)

Emotional, tender, mesmeric, eternal…

(Karel Souèek, http://www.golias.cz, on “Mater”)

“Mater” is a huge aside to many feelings, oscillating on verge of shadowy timbres.

(Dan Hájek, http://musicserver.cz/clanek/15610/Vladimir-Godar-Mater/, on “Mater”)

Dear Vlado,

Thank you very much for “Mater".

When I saw the cover of the CD my first thought was: is the music as good as the design of CD? And I was so glad to find the music created by author who had followed the long and difficult way to reach such an outcome. It is the kind of “complicated simplicity” that can be reached only after many years of poignant quest. I am very happy for you and hope to see you soon in Bratislava.

(Giya Kancheli in his e-mail to VG, 22. 6. 2006, on “Mater”)

A traditional biblical text from the Lukas Gospel (…) was set to music by all great masters of spiritual music. Unlike Bach Godár gets along with minimal acoustic space, tinging the celebrative prayer, later strongly supported by the Bratislava Conservatory Choir in the closing endless chorus. Sudden piercing scraping of the bows of string instruments disturb the choral unity: it comes like from a different century, different world. These are the flashes of God, who joyfully enters the action and accentuates the uniqueness of the event of conception.

(Petr Fischer, Hospodáøské noviny, 6. 6. 2006, on “Mater”: Magnificat)

Touches of Godár and Bittová

The album Mater spreads over ages and woman as a mother is its main subject.

Peace. Grief. Joy. Passing of the time. Hope. Beauty in its purest. Only great words emerge in one's mind when listening to “Mater”, the new CD album of the composer Vladimír Godár with the singer Iva Bittová. (…) Godár is a master of art of impressiveness while using the minimum of devices.

(Ondøej Konrád, Lidové noviny, 25. 5. 2006, on “Mater”)

Impressive, spiritual and fragile album “Mater”…

(Vladimír Vlasák, MF dnes, 12. 5. 2006, on “Mater”)

V. Godár is the most distinct representative of his composing generation. The typical sign of his music is its ability to reverberate not only in the close circle of “experts” or critics focusing on contemporary music, but also to address ordinary listeners and performers. Peculiar for the poetics of the composer is his aversion towards technical intricacy of the after-war avant-garde, his accentuation of the natural musicality and startling close connections between the folk, rock, pop music on one hand and “classical” or mostly “baroque” music on the other hand. Moreover, Godár’s success in film music testifies to his empathy, a sense and instinct while capturing the expression and emotion using minimal means, resulting in an original effect.

(Markéta Štefková: Melos-Étos tradíciou. In: Hudobný život, Vol. 38, 2006, No. 1, p. 4, on Partita.)

His Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky is an instrumental, monochrome requiem much in the tonal and subdued neo-spiritual style that we know from its more prominent exponents Silvestri, Kancheli, Pärt, Penderecki, et al. It could easily have turned into a bland derivative of the above, but with great textural variety and old tricks of sound production well employed, it ended up being a highlight of the evening to these ears.

(http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2005/11/martin-makes-happy.html, on Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky)

Indeed, Godar's opening Talisman (1979–1983) seems to carry overtones of intermittent alienation. He pairs the violin and cello, giving them lyrical, tonal material, while the piano goes its own way and develops a texture of remote, dissonant, Ivesian chords. But then the relationship among the instruments begins to shift: they cooperate, separate again, enter into dialogues, and finally engage in a hushed search for transcendence.

(James Manheim, All Music Guide, on Talisman)

…Vladimir Godar's stormy Concerto Grosso: Presto e molto agitato. It's hard to believe this was all by one composer, as it veered wildly from Shostakovich-style terrorizing to celebratory Bach mode.

(reviewing Monte and Brown's “Day's Residue”)

A pleasantly disconcerting discovery

Another bargain CD that turns out to be not only great value but a great discovery. The music on this record is certainly modern and experimental, but not Modernistic in the ideological sense, for which I am grateful. Bartok is an obvious touchstone here, as is the east European miserablism of Schnittke and the slow movements of Shostakovich's late quartets, but Godar in his academic life is an expert on earlier musical forms, and so the choice of early music specialist Andrew Parrott as conductor is surprisingly appropriate to the material. (Parrott later recorded Godar’s Querela Pacis, a release which saw shamefully limited distribution and is now completely out of print. [This is not true! See links: (http://hudba.drhorak.sk/alba/826/querela-pacis/?idn=1) or (https://www.artforum.sk/katalog/73699/querela-pacis-cd) or (http://www.indiesrec.eu/alba/704/querela-pacis/?idn=1)]

The Concerto Grosso is the more notable piece here, perhaps because it is more compact, certainly because each of the three movements is radically different. The first movement strikes the listener as bizarre: strings with extreme vibrato at first sound like music for a carnival spookhouse. Then the moaning notes remind one of the distinctive folk fiddle style of Eastern Europe. At last one decides that a heavy wind storm is being evoked: wind in trees, through rocks, across steppes.

The second movement uses a Baroque, Vivaldian motif, with dissonant variations, so that the music is alternately pleasant and disconcerting. Conductor Andrew Parrott delivers a great momentum here, and certainly gets the toe tapping. The final movement begins almost inaudibly with eerie minor strings, and gradually a recognisable figure emerges to grow slowly over the course of the piece.

The Partita continues to demonstrate Godar’s interest in producing atmospheres by use of sustained string tones, and is certainly effective in this regard. It struck me while listening to this that Godar could be an effective composer of movie soundtracks. It turns out that this Slovakian composer does write soundtracks, but unfortunately those films are rarely seen in the English-speaking world. He has also composed a number of other concert pieces. This CD has certainly whetted my curiousity, and I will be seeking out further of his work in the future.

P.S. This CD was, it turned out, the first stop in my exploration of late 20th century East European classical music. Although I was not impressed by Mater, on returning to this CD I find these works as strong as ever. I think I can guarantee that anyone who likes Schnittke will like this music. I can also recommend the CDs of Godar's chamber music on the Slovart label, especially ‘Barcarolle’ (violin works) and the CD containing the amazing cello sonata.

(Neil Ford, May 10, 2004, amazon.com, on “Concerto grosso / Partita”)

The hauntingly simple music, written by Vladimír Godár, is reminiscent of the tides of human life: tension alternates with relaxation, sounding like a child’s violin practice. Often it suddenly subsides to give space to the sounds of nature. The soundtrack creates a compact emotive structure, providing the film with an overall integrity.

(Zuzana Gindl-Tatárová: Záhrada. In: 24 Frames. The Cinema of Central Europe. Peter Hames (ed.) Budapest 2004, p. 245–254. Wallflower Press, on filmmusic to The Garden)

…a myth looking into the soul of man, sweeping him to boundless depths of his own subconscious, enchanting him by a sonic fluidum and compelling him to utmost concentration.

(Alena Èierna, Hudobný život 11/2000, on Dariachanghi's Orchard)

(...) Ms Monte’s “Day’s Residue”... The idea for it came from a score in which Bach themes bubble, burst and ooze up through churning music by Vladimir Godar.

(Jennifer Dunning, May 18, 2000, The New York Times, on Concerto Grosso)

Godár is a wizard-composer. Able to control time, steer a theme, estimate the right moment for a start – not like a craftsman, but like an artist. The whole music history serves him as a keyboard, on which he can play and create similarly to A. Schnittke (…) Godár, too, follows him in his footsteps.

(Igor Berger, Hudobný život 5/1999, on Déploration sur la mort de Witold Lutos³awski)

In what resides the enchanting force of Godár's pieces? Maybe in his ability to revive what was forgotten long ago, to reveal new relations of the familiar, to lead continuous dialogue with tradition. A listener acquires a feeling, that he knows the music intimately, that it is genetically joined with him and yet it is uncovering new bearings, new dimensions. A sense of fascination originates, coming from rediscovery of long forgotten past by means of modern music language.

(Zuzana Martináková, Hudobný život 5/1999, on CD Music for Cello)

(…) Godár is a very sensible and perceptive man, with unbelievable aesthetical erudition, who approaches music really from within; therefore he cannot be mistaken. He is plainly a Renaissance personality. With him there are only two possibilities: either he takes it up and creates a masterpiece or he doesn's do it at all.

(Saša Gedeon, Czech Lion Awards 1999)

(...) I would like to see a list of foreign composers, whose work is stunningly vivid. I remember going to the Palm Springs Film festival and watching half a dozen films and being amazed at the range of some foreign composers, Vladimir Godar’s music for Orbis Pictus, struck me as beautifully rich, as well as ery playful. His score for the Garden, also a Czech film from the year before, was more brilliant. Somewhere in this talent pool is a future Nino Rota.

(Kombiz Lavasany, October 23, 1998, Film Score Monthly, http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/articles/1998/23_Oct---Film_Score_Friday.asp, on films)

But at the same time I saw a few brilliant films which were all accompanied by great scores that I have been dying to let people know about (...) The first and best was a caech film by the name of Orbis Pictus (...) It was accompanied by one of the best film scores (Vladimir Godar) I've heard in a long time. The score underwrote the film so well that the mouth would water at the first movement of strings wanting the experience never to end (...) There is little talent in Hollywood that could have matched the intuition of the composer.

(Kombiz Lavasany, January 23, 1998, Film Score, on Orbis pictus)

Next we were treated to the World Premiere of Vladimír Godár's Barcarolle for Cello and Orchestra in which the soloist was Julian Lloyd Webber. The Barcarolle has a rich, imaginative score, utilising the ABACADAE Coda structure. The principal theme is a short, staccato motif played on Solo Cello, Harp and Harpsichord. Section B comprises a soulful melody, giving Lloyd Webber ample opportunity to show off his tone and expressive musicality. The accompaniment was lightly scored, utilising just lower strings, and subsequent intervening Sections used this basis to build up texturally and emotionally to the climax in Section D before winding down again towards the end of the work.

Another World Premiere was of John Tavener's Tears of the Angels. Another soulful piece, Gould had her work cut out for her due to the difficult solo part – made up of trilled motifs in the very top register! It was a challenging piece for the Orchestra, and one which they pulled off very well, but the evening's bouquet must go to the Godár Barcarolle.

(Shirley Brown, Musical Opinion, August 1996, on Barcarolle)

There was something no less elegant about Vladimir Godar's Barcarolle, and no less simple yet elegant in its solution to the problems of ultra-slow music that also fits into an articulate pattern. Julian Lloyd Webber commissioned it after hearing Godar's oratorio Orbis sensualium pictus at the 1992 Prague Spring Festival. His reading on Wednesday was another world premiere at the Hellenic Centre, and it drew strenght from all the virtues of his playing: sensuos legato and charmed phrasing in the cello's highest register. There were, in essence, only two chords, changing inpredictably like a catch in the voice. Pärt, in his Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, uses only one, but for minimalist classic, one is enough.

(Nicholas Williams, The INDEPENDENT, Friday 28th June 1996, on Barcarolle)

The final dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent release of its former satellite states resulted in undoubted calamities in middle and eastern Europe, not least the catastrophic revival of arrant nationalism with all the bloodshed and mayhem that inevitably followed in its wake. It may be cold comfort to know that out of the chaos also emerged richly equipped traditions of music that had hitherto been repressed, but it is at least something positive and forward-looking to hold on to. Unforeseen because hitherto invisible – or rather, silent – to audiences in the West, the discovery of the music of the Balkan states, of Russia, of the Eastern Bloc countries has been one of the few causes for optimism and celebration in a troubled classical climate of late. Witness the enormous critical and commercial success of Henryk Górecki, of Peteris Vasks and of Arvo Pärt and the still emergent talents of Kancheli, Korndorf, Silvestrov and a host of others as proof of such. Now another name, that of the young Slovakian composer, Vladimír Godár, can be added to the list with the world premiére on June 26 of his work for cello and orchestra, Barcarolle.

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, who commisioned the work first encountered Godár at the 1992 Prague Spring Festival where his oratorio Orbis Sensualium Pictus was being performed. He explains the genesis of the new piece.

“I obviously get to hear a lot of new music at concerts but I was particularly impressed by this massive choral work, over an hour long and with huge forces, so much so that by the end I didn't want it to finish, it was so beautiful. After that I felt sure Vladimír could write something good for cello. We began to talk and correspond and rather unexpectedly – because I thought he was going to write me a full-scale concerto – he sent me this ten-minute Barcarolle, which was fully formed and very beautiful. His music is really quite individual but there are a lot of influences in it – there is a sort of folk thing in it and he's obviously interested in Schnittke – but he doesn't seem to have come up from the German school at all; he seems to have missed out Beethoven and Brahms altogether. If anything, it's more out of Russia and possibly even America.”

(What's On in London, June 12 – June 19, 1996. Eastern Promises. Michael Quinn talks to Julian Lloyd Webber and Clio Gould, on Barcarolle)

Die Slowaken Juraj Èizmaroviè (Violine) und Daniela Rusó (Klavier) konfrontierten im Gürzenich-Kammerkonzert, kurzfristig von der Philharmonie in den WDR verlegt, mit bestürzend direkter und ausdruckskräftiger Musik ihres Landsmanns Vladimír Godár. Seine Sequenzia von 1987 zerstert die Begräbnissequenz “Dies irae”, dehnt die gregorianische Melodie, unterlegt sie finster, reißt sie in extremen Tonhöhen auseinander, reibt sie in Kontrastspielen auf. Godár geht es nicht um billig geborgte Ewigkeitsaura. Sein fratzenhafter Totentanz oder sein unschuldiges Spieldosenliedchen wirken so kraß wie Schrekkensbilder vom Jüngsten Gericht. Godár Sequenzia ist dem Gürzenich-Geiger Cizmarovic gewidmet und braucht das rückhaltlose Spiel des Duos.

(Stadt Anzeiger, 26. 1. 1993, on Sequence)

…A likely culprit: simple fatigue. Godár's “Concerto Grosso”, which followed the Janáèek must surely have taxed the string players even in warmup, to judge from the actual performance.

This texture-laden work, here heard in its American premiere, opens with alternating sections of trills like angry bees and block chords with no vibrato. Its second movement calls for arpeggii similar to those which open the “Battle on the Ice” in Prokofiev's “Alexander Nevsky”, but here they are played much faster, and go on unremittingly for 10 minutes and more.

Only the third movement affords a sense of peace, even of gloom. This carefully crafted passacaglia on a descending seven-note minor scale has upper strings playing in a canon whose density builds to a climax of great pathos, much like Walton's “Death of Falstaff” chaconne in his film score for Olivier's “Henry V”.

Still, on the whole, Godar's youthful concerto is no crowd-pleaser. It bristles with astringent harmonies and dense texture. And as a vehicle for the harpsichord, it pales next to other 20th-century works like Manuel de Falla's 1926 “Concerto for 5 Instruments”.

Ray Cornils, an accomplished harpsichordist, was idle for much of the piece, while the strings worked overtime. (Several players were obliged to run their hands under hot water at intermission!)…

(concert of Portland Symphony Orchestra in Portland 24. 1. 1993, Nick Humez, Portland Press Herald, 25. 1. 1993, on Concerto Grosso)

Over the last five years or so it has been a deep pleasure for me to get to know both Vladimír Godár himself and his music. He is a musician and thinker of rare intelligence and integrity, and, to my mind, has a truly distinctive musical voice. The slow pace of much of his music and his avoidance of gimmickry and sensationalism are by no means typical of his generation, but may increasingly find new admirers as the old orthodoxies vanish and as “classical music” broadens both its parameters and its market.

(Andrew Parrott, 1993)

Vladimír Godár (…) has now established himself as one of the leading composers of his generation. This CD from the Slovak company Opus shows how strong and individual a musical personality Godár is: both these works are scored for unusual forces and both are utterly absorbing. Stylistically Godár is hard to place, but his music has some of the ebullience of Martinù and the timeless spaciousness of Arvo Pärt's Tabula rasa. Godár's Partita (…) This fine piece includes a haunting motif which is used to hypnotic effect in the long, slow and extremely beautiful last movement. This is preceded by a blistering Capriccio which reveals Godár's fondness for high timpani parts as well as his great skill as a writer for strings.

The Concerto grosso is scored for the more modest forces of 12 strings and harpsichord. I don't find it quite as impressive as the Partita, but it is a very rewarding piece. (…) Quite why Opus should ask an English conductor to record these pieces I don't know, but I am delighted that they did: these performances are very impressive indeed and Parrott's handling of Godár's long slow movements is particulary fine. I want to hear more of this composer.

(NS, CD REVIEW Magazine; January 1991, on CD Concerto grosso and Partita)

…his music is unsettling, motoric and charged up to an explosion – like the era we live in. Godár succeeded to imprint a deeper meaning to his gradational waves as well as to silence…

((kit), concert of FOK in Prague 11. 10. 1989, Lidová demokracie 2. 11. 1989, on Dariachanghi's Orchard)

(…) Music fascinated me, there are only two instruments sounding in the composition, but I had an illusion of the whole orchestra playing…

(Libor Vaculík, interviewed by Nina Littschauerová, Smena, 19. 4. 1989, on Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky)

Godár eagerly appeals by music full of contrasts ranging from viciousness to utmost lyricism. Variegated and rich sound of the piece helps the varied almost visual thoughts to reverberate more effectively. This music is human in its dimensions, strength, ambitions, deep senses. (…) His music would like to lead man on his way to knowledge of the right values, both heights and depths of life and thus – maybe – to that mythical (or plain?) happiness.

(Terézia Ursínyová, Nové slovo, 4. 2. 1988, on Dariachanghi's Orchard)

His music captivates you by a strong and unrepeatable utterance, by its programmatic character – indeed the particular substructures of the piece can evoke visual fantasies in a listener – as well as by its unique architectonical arch. Godár again revealed himself as a powerful composer-personality. Definitely he would do well in a wider foreign competition.

(Miloslav Blahynka, Smena, 21. 1. 1988, on Dariachanghi's Orchard)

Godár's music oscillates in the past, presence and perhaps also the future. This creative timelessness set to his music is synthetized not only to return to the past, but to pose new questions, new uncertainties, to uncover fragile beauty of music, to extract the presence from our feeling of stability and to show it as a moving temporary bridge leading from the past to the future.

(Igor Berger, Veèerník, 16. 2. 1987, on Concerto grosso, concert of Cappella Istropolitana, cond. Andrew Parrott)

The words won't do to express the consequences of the performance of this powerfully effective piece in the Clarissean Church; an event very unusual for a chamber concert. Extatic audiences absolutely spontaneously expressed their consent with what they had just heard. The Church resonated with enormously long applause and shouts of “bravo”. Vladimír Godár proved once again, that any strictly comprehended construction may be filled with musical contents, while not betraying the primary function of any art – communicativeness. The young composer embarked on a so far spiny route; however, he demonstrates in each new work that he belongs to leading personalities of our music.

(Igor Javorský, Hudobný život, 13. 10. 1986, on Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky)

The youngest one reaped the most gigantic applause, almost ovation. And it is great news, especially for Slovak music, which was considered to be dissonant for years, difficult and any, yet not beautiful and listenable. Now a sharp stylistic turn came; moreover Godár by the spirit of a new aesthetical inniciative is attractive. Inspired and appealing. His Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky for cello and piano is – in a word – GOOD MUSIC.

(Igor Podracký, Veèerník 22. 7. 1986, on Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky)

(…) yet in my opinion the highest notch belongs to Godár's Talisman, nocturne for violin, cello and piano. It is a unique piece, blessed with flood of fantasy, emotionality and musical beauty. (…)Talisman is a victory of music over construction. Godár is inimitable in his simplicity, sincerity, what he proved not only by his Talisman, but also by Partita, Ricercar and other works.

(Igor Berger, Nové slovo, ammendment Nede¾a, 7. 3. 1985, on Talisman)

Definitely it was Vladimír Godár who presented the most important composition. His Ricercar played by Jozef Kopelman, Peter Hamar, Juraj Alexander and Gabika Csörgöová is not only compositionally mastered with originality, but also filled with inner tension, curve of genuine artistic utterrance from the first to the last note. Following old masters the author builds the whole texture on the only one element – the minor third; this fact perhaps resulted in an admirable closeness of Ricercar. Deep musical emocionality takes the floor; only truly talented composers succeed in such a connection.

(ip, Veèerník 11. 5. 1982, on Ricercar)

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