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The Overgrown Path

Donald Macleod explains how, still languishing in obscurity and with his health failing, the dejected Janacek composed a unique piano masterpiece: the suite On an Overgrown Path.

Still languishing in obscurity and with his health failing, a dejected Janacek composes a unique piano masterpiece: his suite On an Overgrown Path. Presented by Donald Macleod.

The life of Leos Janacek (1854-1928) is one of the strangest in all classical music. Virtually ignored for most of his career, in his late 60s Janacek abruptly began to compose some of the greatest masterpieces of the 20th century, whilst all the time hopelessly and unrequitedly in love with a woman more than half his age, Kamila Stösslová. Yet once upon a time Janacek was best known as a composer of chamber music. This week, Donald Macleod explores the composer's life through his instrumental and small-scale compositions, revealing the little-known story of his struggle for recognition.

The first decade of the 20th century was a depressing one for Janacek. Now well into his fifties, he remained a relatively obscure composer from Moravia, without any real success in Prague, let alone internationally. His health failing, Janacek poured his innermost thoughts into a unique piano masterpiece: his suite On an Overgrown Path. Donald Macleod explores the collection, as well as a rare work for cello and piano based on a Russian folk tale.

Ho, Ho, Off Go the Cows (Rikadla)
Collegium Vocale Gent
Het Collectif
Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor

Our Evenings; A Blown-Away Leaf; Come with Us!; The Frydek Madonna; They Chattered Like Swallows (On an Overgrown Path)
Stephen Hough, piano

Pohádka (Fairy Tale)
Steven Isserlis, cello
Thomas Adès, piano

Words Fail!; Good Night!; Unutterable Anguish; In Tears; The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away (On an Overgrown Path)
Stephen Hough, piano

My Tiny Little Wife; Granny's Crawling Into The Elder Bush; A White Goat's Picking Pears; German-Beetle Broke Some Pans (Rikadla)
Collegium Vocale Gent
Het Collectif
Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Leos Janáček

    Ho, ho, kravy do [Ho, ho, the cows are coming]

    Performer: Reinbert de Leeuw. Orchestra: Collegium Vocale Ghent Orchestra.
    • Alpha Alpha 219.
    • Alpha.
    • 23.
  • Leos Janáček

    On An Overgrown Path - extract

    Performer: Stephen Hough.
    • Hyperion: CDA67895.
    • Hyperion.
    • 2.
  • Leos Janáček

    Pohadka [Fairy tales]

    Performer: Steven Isserlis. Performer: Thomas Adès.
    • HYPERION : CDA-67948.
    • HYPERION.
    • 4.
  • Leos Janáček

    On An Overgrown Path - extract

    Performer: Stephen Hough.
    • Hyperion: CDA67895.
    • Hyperion.
    • 7.
  • Leos Janáček

    Rikadla (children's rhymes)

    Performer: Reinbert de Leeuw. Orchestra: Collegium Vocale Ghent Orchestra.
    • Alpha Alpha 219.
    • Alpha.
    • 24.

Broadcast

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