The fiery temperament of Kristina Fialová blazed forth with the Ostrava Philharmonics

…the fiery temperament of Kristina Fialová was evident in the overall impression the concert made on the audience, yet her interpretation was also thoroughly rational, sophisticated and immensely attentive…

The Janáček Philharmonics concert, interestingly titled ‘The Fiery Temperament of Kristina Fialová’, featured this first lady of the viola, who presented the audience in Ostrava with the music of Miklós Rósza, partnered by the Janáček Philharmonics under the baton of the Chinese conductor Tao Fan.


Does the name Miklós Rósza ring no bell? Nothing to worry about, but next time you watch movies like Ben Hur, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, or The Thief of Bagdad on TV, perhaps you will find the film scores quite intriguing. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. As it happened, the concert program included music of yet another Hungarian, one who much enjoyed his time at the nearby chateau Hradec nad Moravicí, where his host was the Duke Lichnovský. Ferenc Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1 was quite an unusual experience: the composition with its Faustian topic, which had attracted the often contradictory character of this Hungarian hothead throughout his life, is nowadays a rare guest at concert stages. The roughly ten-minute musical sketch attracted first and foremost by its unusual instrumentation (evoking piano stylization), bold harmonic progressions and inventive fancy melodicism. After that, the reigning queen of Czech viola came to the stage and performed an Ostrava resurrection of one of the greatest cinematographic composers of all times, whose music is all too often and quite unfairly neglected.


The Hungarian composer Miklós Rósza is rather one of a kind. The Czech and Slovak Film Database server ranks him as the 180th most popular author of film scores, but this stands in need of some explanation. Rósza mostly produced scores for films adapting great literary classics, hence his were hardly average movies of the time. His concert production never became an object of general attention, although it was by no means marginal: Rósza’s two concertos, one for the violin and the other for the viola, are both outstanding. The former was admirably recorded by the legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz, while the latter was heard on Thursday and Friday in Ostrava. It is a composition which appears on concert stages only very infrequently.


Rósza’s concert and instrumental music is distinctive for its conspicuous dramatism (both concertos exhibit similar complexion and stylization—while the one for the violin is perhaps somewhat coarser in the sound, the one for viola comes across as rather more conciliatory). The composer’s melodic invention clearly draws from the springs of Hungarian folk music, although the inspiration by Béla Bartók, the dominant figure in Hungarian music of the twentieth century, is also apparent. The viola concerto clearly manifests both. Particularly characteristic is Rósza’s enwrapping of the melody by seconds, as well as the penetrative consonances of the fourths and the harsh instrumentation. As regards the fervor mentioned in the concert program, this might be a matter of some debate: the texture of the composition is rather robust, its main story taking place in dark deep hues and on lower levels. Rather than fervor, the audience could feel a sense of urgency, a rapid flow of musical ideas and their ordering into series of impetuous contrasts. The viola concerto brings dramatically constricted music and the viola part is constructed completely within such intentions.


The fiery temperament of Kristina Fialová was evident in the overall impression the concert made on the audience, yet her interpretation was also thoroughly rational, sophisticated and immensely attentive. She presented the viola concerto with precision, dynamic austerity and few ostentatious gestures. In that she captured the musical construction of the concerto very well indeed—I enjoyed her sober approach, supported also by the sure baton of the Chinese conductor Tao Fan and dependably precise performance of the Janáček Philharmonics. Her precious 18th-century instrument with its extraordinary sound no doubt played an important role as well. Fialová enjoyed a well-deserved response of the audience and cut a fine figure with the encore of a vigorous piece by Paul Hindemith, presented in a very knowledgeable manner.

Milan Bátor kristiny-fialove- zahorel-po- boku-ostravskych- filharmoniku/


"…Kristina Fialová has a velvety tone, perfect for the works’ lyricism…"


"…Kristina Fialová’s refined taste matches up with her interpretive approach to the compositions selected and gives her temperament, natural virtuosity and emotionally engaged tone of her instrument an opportunity to shine…"

MusicWeb International

"…Kristina Fialová is universally acclaimed for her expressive and lively interpretation, brilliantly cultivated tone, and coherent general conception. Her flawless technique and immense musicality did not take long to manifest themselves…"