Gabriela Benackova;   Rudolf Firkusny   (RCA 60823)
Item# V2336
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Gabriela Benackova;   Rudolf Firkusny   (RCA 60823)
V1336. GABRIELA BENACKOVA, w.Rudolf Firkusny (Pf.): Songs by Dvorak, Janacek & Martinu. RCA 60823, recorded 1993, w.15pp text-brochure. Final copy. - 090266082322


"While best known for her accomplishments in Czech music, particularly that of Dvorak and Smetana, Benackova has performed in nearly all the lirico-spinto soprano roles in the Italian repertoire. She has earned equal praise for her musicianship and vocal beauty, though she is occasionally accused of bringing a non-Italianate coolness to those roles. She has also sung the more lyric Wagner roles, including Eva and Senta.

Her opera debut was at the National Theater in Prague, as Natasha in Prokofiev's WAR AND PEACE, in 1970. In 1975, she sang her first Jenufa there; like Dvorak's Rusalka, that role has since become one of her signatures. Jenufa was also the vehicle for her 1978 Vienna State Opera debut. In 1979, she made her Covent Garden debut as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's EUGEN ONEGIN. She sang the title role of Smetana's LIBUSE for the re-opening of the National Theater in Prague in 1983. Her Met debut was as Kat'a Kabanova in 1991, which she also recorded with Sir Charles Mackerras in 1997. She also continued her career as a concert artist in works by Dvorak, Janacek, and Mahler. Benackova has been involved in the restoration of Gustav Mahler's birthplace at Kaliste in the Czech Republic."

- Anne Feeney,

"Rudolf Firkusny, a Czech-born pianist, was known for his elegant performing style and his warm, patrician manner. During a long career, Mr. Firkusny was a favorite of audiences, piano connoisseurs and Czech-music specialists alike. He achieved still wider recognition in his late years in unexpected ways. In 1990, at 78, he appeared on a basketball court in concert dress, as a foil to David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs in a popular television commercial for Nike sneakers. 'Music needs all kinds of encouragement', Mr. Firkusny said at the time. Shortly afterward, he made a triumphant return to Czechoslovakia, as the country was then still called. Although he had not performed there for 44 years because of his staunch opposition to Communist control, he was recognized for his lifelong contributions to Czech music and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Charles University in Prague."

- James R. Oestreich, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 20 July, 1994