Magazine article Czech Music

Hana Blazikova: Medieval and Renaissance Music Is Still Fresh to Us

Magazine article Czech Music

Hana Blazikova: Medieval and Renaissance Music Is Still Fresh to Us

Article excerpt

Precious few Czech singers rank among the world's best in their category. Paradoxically, they are not paid overly much attention at home, in part because they simply do not perform in their native country, This, however, is not the case of Hana Blazikova, who can be heard in Czech churches and concert halls, as well as in rock clubs. Yet the soprano appears more frequently in Western Europe and Japan, working with the finest conductors and ensembles performing early music, the most renowned including Philippe Herreweghe, Masaaki Suzuki and Peter Kooij. Hana Blazilkova mainly sings Renaissance and Baroque music, but she also devotes to even older styles - the Gregorian chant and medieval music. Furthermore, she plays the Gothic harp and bass guitar in the rock band Stillknox. And she has recorded, among other things, the complete Fryderyk Chopin songs. When at the beginning of March we were arranging a slot for an interview, Hana was just returning from a tour with Collegium Vocale Gent and was getting ready for her visit to Japan. At the same time, she was preparing for performances with Capella Mariana in Madrid, Collegium 1704 in Prague and Dresden, Tiburtina Ensemble in Gent, which would be followed by recording of Spanish cantigas, two concerts with Collegium Marianum, then a performance in Oslo and, in early April, singing Bach's St. John Passion in Amsterdam - the very first collaboration with Ton Koopman ...

The range of your activities is simply incredible. What iv an ordinary day like?

I can't say there's such a thing as an ordinary day. I keep doing new projects, I travel a lot, and many times I don't even know what day of the week it is, merely taking my bearings by dates. When I do have a day off, I mainly practise and prepare for the next concert, or I spend the whole day at a rehearsal. I think it must be the same with every professional freelance musician. Perhaps this story can give a better picture - not long ago, I was on a tour with Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe, several programmes were being performed and I was supposed to sing in just one of them. So I took my husband with me so we could enjoy the beauties of medieval Bruges, where we were rehearsing. And, above all, we looked forward to sampling the splendid local beer! I planned to have a little bit of a rest, explore and learn new pieces for the following projects. But on the day of the first concert, the other singer fell ill and I ultimately had to sing everything. I virtually sight-read two of the concerts, fortunately, I knew the rest ...

You began as a classically trained singer: How did you actually get to early music?

I have perhaps always been familiar with early music, since my family often put on Bach and others, Michna for instance. My dad and I used to sing Renaissance songs together - I grew up in a very musical family. But until I reached a certain age I found all classical music "old", I didn't distinguish between Bach and Wagner, I wasn't really interested in it. I most tolerated medieval music, which intrigued me because it sounded different, it wasn't typically "classical". When it comes to Baroque music, for instance, I only began to take an interest after completing my conservatory studies. At the time, I first learned that there was such a thing as historically informed performance and started to enjoy using my voice so as to best meet the requirements (or the sonic ideal) of this or that period. I wasn't the type to study period treatises, I have always approached music rather intuitively. Of major significance for me was working with the people who occupied themselves with early music more profoundly and who provided me with valuable information essential for its performing: Robert Hugo, Jana Semeradova, Vaclav Luks and other specialists.

But I am of the opinion that informed performance should not only apply to pre-Classicist music, since each period, country, as well as musical genre, requires a specific style of interpretation. …

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