Il Boemo - Motion Picture Soundtrack - A film by Petr Vaclav. © 2023 Parlophone Records Ltd

CD Spotlight

A Trailblazer of Classical Expression

ANETT FODOR encourages music enthusiasts to experience 'Il Boemo – The Czech'

'... a gateway, unveiling hidden treasures from a bygone era.'


When I received this recording, a sense of anticipation overcame me for the musical journey ahead. Engrossed in its music, I sought to unravel the identity of the composer. Could it be Mozart? Something made me question that initial assumption. Consumed by curiosity, I eagerly examined the CD cover. My suspicions were confirmed; it was not Mozart, it was ... Mysliveček.

Posthumous portrait of Czech composer Josef Mysliveček (1737-1781) by Czech painter Jan Vilímek (1860–1938)
Posthumous portrait of Czech composer
Josef Mysliveček (1737-1781) by
Czech painter Jan Vilímek (1860–1938)

Listen — Mysliveček: Allegro con spirito (Ezio Overture)
(5054197238147 track 1, 0:00-1:00) ℗ 2023 Mimesis Film sro :

It is not surprising that I nearly confused them! Comparative musicology has convincingly demonstrated that Mysliveček (1737-1781) served as a precursor to Mozart's expressive style. For example, the structure, melodic elements, and motifs found in Mysliveček's opera Tamerlano, particularly in the Aria of 'Bajazette', can be identified in Mozart's later work Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which postdates Tamerlano by sixteen years. Additionally, other sections of Mysliveček's opera bear striking resemblances to Mozart's works, such as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that Mozart possessed a deep understanding of Mysliveček's music, making the Czech composer one of the pioneers of the style that reached its zenith in Viennese classical music. Mysliveček, however, could not achieve the same level of depth as his Viennese successors; instead, he heralded the style of a new musical era.

Josef Mysliveček was born in the vibrant city of Prague. His family was involved in the milling business. Whilst he initially sought his livelihood in the mill, he also pursued his passion for music, diligently honing his skills. In the year 1770, a significant encounter took place in Bologna: the fourteen-year-old Mozart crossed paths with none other than Mysliveček himself. The young Mozart looked up to his colleague with great admiration. The meeting with the esteemed, one generation older, composer left an indelible mark upon Mozart, profoundly influencing his upcoming musical career.

Petr Vaclav, a Czech director, has created a biographical film about Josef Mysliveček titled Il Boemo. With exceptional performances by renowned actors, vocalists and musicians, it offers an exploration of the composer's world.

The original compositions of Mysliveček presented in this Czech-Italian-Slovak film were also released on a CD, allowing audiences to enjoy the music beyond the cinematic experience. This disc features excerpts from eight of his more than twenty operas: Ezio, Demetrio, L'Olimpiade, Adamo ed Eva, Il Bellerofonte, Il Demofoonte, Armida and Romolo ed Ersilia. Spanning the years 1767 to 1779, these works were composed in illustrious cities such as Munich, Naples, Florence and Milan.

The CD features an incredible group of soloists and instrumentalists whose performances are exceptional:

Simona Šaturová, Raffaella Milanesi, Emőke Baráth, and Giulia Semenzato, all sopranos, bring their unique voices to the forefront captivating listeners with impressive vocal range and sparkling delivery.

A few years ago, I came across a review of Emőke Baráth in a Hungarian newspaper. To my surprise, it claimed that she had a 'small' voice. This statement left me perplexed. Those who listen to her attentively will quickly realise that this assertion is entirely untrue. Her captivating voice and undeniable talent defy any limitations or simplistic judgments.

Listen — Mysliveček: Nacqui agli affani in seno (Demetrio)
(5054197238147 track 14, 0:40-1:39) ℗ 2023 Mimesis Film sro :

Sophie Harmsen, a mezzo-soprano, enchants, bringing an extra layer of emotion to the score.

Listen — Mysliveček: Che non mi disse un dì? (L'Olimpiade)
(5054197238147 track 12, 0:00-1:00) ℗ 2023 Mimesis Film sro :

Philippe Jaroussky and Benno Schachtner, both countertenors, display their extraordinary vocal agility and ethereal beauty of timbre.

Listen — Mysliveček: Mentre dormi (L'Olimpiade)
(5054197238147 track 10, 0:46-1:46) ℗ 2023 Mimesis Film sro :

Krystian Adam and Juan Sancho, the tenors, bring their powerful and emotive voices to the mix.

Listen — Mysliveček: Pria ch'io perda (Il Bellerofonte)
(5054197238147 track 9, 0:22-1:22) ℗ 2023 Mimesis Film sro :

Collegium 1704, a renowned Czech ensemble, enchants audiences with its exceptional musicality and unwavering dedication to historical authenticity. Under the guidance of Václav Luks, meticulous care in period performance breathes life into the eighteenth century music infusing it with elegance and emotional depth. Through careful collaboration, Collegium 1704 has created an immersive experience that will leaves its listeners spellbound.

I encourage music enthusiasts to experience this CD for themselves. It presents a valuable opportunity to delve into the historical significance of a lesser-known, nearly forgotten composer. The CD serves as a gateway, unveiling hidden treasures from a bygone era. Listeners can embark on an enriching musical journey, gaining a deeper understanding of the classical music tradition.

Copyright © 11 July 2023 Anett Fodor,
Győr-Moson-Sopron, Hungary



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