Leos Janáček (1854-1928) was (and remains) an important Czech composer. As a young man he became friends with Dvorak and was one of the early so-called nationalist composers. This movement urged its composers to write music of their homeland and Janáček was among the early group who turner to the folk songs of his native land for source stylistic materials. Many others followed his lead in their own lands (think of Kodaly, Bartok, and even Stravinsky as examples of a much larger group).
This disk contains his only surviving song cycle - which is really a kind of song drama. It is based on some poems that appeared in a newspaper and caught the composer's eye. He clipped them out and took them with him on a trip to a spa and began working on the songs. The poems were published anonymously and were ostensibly by a rustic farm boy who is lured away by a gypsy and is never heard from again. It turns out they were by Ozef Kalda (the pseudonym of Josef Kalda (1871-1921). The songs are mostly for the tenor, but the gypsy makes her appearance, as do three female voices urging the boy to follow the gypsy. Ian Bostridge is superb as the rustic who disappeared and Ruby Philogene is fine as the gypsy.
The pianist, Thomas Adès, not only accompanies the song cycle, he also plays some wonderful solo pieces. One set is of piano pieces based on Moravian folk songs and then there is a set of miscellaneous pieces. All are quite short, but very expressive. Adès is a fine and expressive artist.
The disk concludes with earlier versions of two of the songs from the song cycle.
I think it is always good to stretch your musical experience. This music is quite different than the German, Italian, French art music and song writing that you are probably more used to hearing. This music, while certainly tonal, is quite different in harmonic language, melodic angularity and spacing. Enjoy!