Slávka Vernerová is one of the Czech Republic’s most distinctive pianists. She gives concerts all over the world – she performed a recital in Zurich’s famous Tonhalle, she was accompanied by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and she was a huge success at London’s celebrated BBC Proms festival, playing under conductor Jiří Bělohlávek and accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Slávka Vernerová put together her recital as a tribute to her teacher, Ivan Moravec, who would have turned ninety this November; her programme thus incorporates works which she had studied under the supervision of Moravec, one of the most important Czech and world pianists. In a Czech Television documentary, the maestro described the pianist as his best pupil.
Date of EventTuesday, 3.11. 2020 from 19.30
Event placeRudolfinum – Dvořák Hall
Price100 - 500 CZK
- Leoš Janáček: Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905 „From the Street“
- Antonín Dvořák: Humoresques Op. 101/1, 3, 5
- Josef Suk: Spring Op. 22a
- Robert Schumann: Carnaval Op. 9
- Slávka Vernerová - piano
The evening begins with Janáček’s only piano sonata and continues with selections from the Humoresques that Antonín Dvořák composed at his summer home in Vysoká, where he spent his second summer holiday while director of the conservatoire in New York. The first half of the concert will close with a cycle by Dvořák’s pupil Josef Suk titled Spring. The cycle is influenced by impressionism. The second half of the recital will feature Carnaval by Robert Schumann, with twenty-one movements based on motifs fashioned from the notes A, Es (E flat), C, H (B natural), which form a cryptogram referring to the Bohemian town Asch (now Aš), the birthplace of Ernestine von Fricken, to whom Schumann was then engaged.
According to a review on the server Opera Plus dated 2014, when she recorded three Mozart piano concertos on the French label Praga Digitals with the Pražák Quartet, “The piano part is played with captivatingly evenness of tone, tender phrasing, musicality, and nuanced details. The slow movements have long cantabiles and the quick ones have the requisite playfulness. The pianist, a pupil of Ivan Moravec, is continuing his artistic legacy in an especially worthy manner. And like him, she does not enjoy marketing herself, so she is less will known than certain more ambitious personalities among the Czech pianists.”
It is said that her great-great-great-uncle was Bedřich Smetana. Still, she is the first professional musician in her family. “My mother plays the violin and my stepfather is a piano tuner and technician, so there was never a lack of instruments around at home, but it isn’t like anyone was pressuring me to practise”, she said in an interview. “I went to a music school to take piano lessons because that was a part of the education of little girls, and later I added oboe to that, but I was preparing myself for what we, in our family, called a ‘regular’ profession. I wanted to be a physician like my mother, so I went to a grammar school and was on track to study medicine. I didn’t decide to study music until I was eighteen.”
“Her lucky star began shining at the moment she became a pupil of Prof. Ivan Moravec at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in the autumn of 1998,” we read in a review from the journal Harmonie published after her Prague Spring debut in 2004.
When she graduated in 2007, the theme of her doctoral programme was the piano music of Leoš Janáček, and she also recorded all of his major solo piano works on her debut CD, which was issued ten years ago. “This recording has all of the features we would rightly demand from every new recording of a widely known work: a strong opinion supported by the most precise preparation possible,” we read in a review. “The performance is remarkable. Each part has a story, a clear climax, a point, and logically chosen ranges of touch. Thanks to this logic, we hear many details for the first time, or we rediscover them. Contributing to this are the tempos, which are mostly slow, sometimes extremely, daringly slow. From her teacher Ivan Moravec she has gained a rare sense of quality of touch. She puts her faith in integrity and inner content.”
This recording won one of the most prestigious awards in France, the CD CHOC, in this country it was announced as a TIP by the journal Harmonie, and on Belgium’s radio network Classic it placed among the TOP 10. For the same company, Vernerová has recorded two more CDs: in 2011 a Chopin – Schumann solo recital and in 2013 three piano concertos by W. A. Mozart. That recording earned all five starts from Diapason.
Some years ago, Czech Television broadcast a documentary tribute to Ivan Moravec, in which he called Slávka Vernerová his best pupil.
In an interview, Ms. Vernerová gave a fitting characterisation of Ivan Moravec. Interestingly, the same words would describe her as well: “He thinks through his conception of a work to all of its ramifications – after all, he has been studying his repertoire for years. But he does not fall back on old performances and let himself be lulled into thinking ‘it’s good enough like that’. He keeps going and working hard on himself. On the listener, he makes the impression as if the piano were making such beautiful sounds all by itself… But believe me, the instrument will also ‘obey’ you, and you will experience a great disappointment…”