Inspired by three ever-relevant texts and tunes from three different eras of our modern history, hidden and blurred; still, with moments of clarity of direct, fragmented, and varied quotations – the work delivers a reflection, reconciliation, and imploration for humane values. Yet, there’s a CATCH . . .
~ Lukáš Janata
There are myriad ways in which we document the world around us: some keep account in a diary, some broadcast over the vast cyber wilds of the internet, and some capture moments or periods of time in works of art. Much like this last approach, Lukáš Janata’s Catch is a record imbued with recent observations, poetry, and personal interactions. The catch is that the composer does not intend for his works to be explicit but rather to exist as a convergence of the observations and emotions of the composer, performer, and listener. The meaning of this symphonic work is for each individual to decide.
From its first few measures, it is clear that the work trades in contradictions and extremes, quickly vacillating between very loud and very soft. The theme of the work’s opening slow section is first stated by the oboe and contrabassoon at either end of the frequency spectrum. Its returns become increasingly fragmented as the orchestra continues to dynamically expand and contract (this can be heard especially in the percussion, producing an effect like quickened breathing). Concurrently, the horns have a long sliding gesture (a glissando) repeated three times, with the first two ascending almost an entire octave. This more sustained intensity anticipates the arrival of the piece’s fast section, which begins with a vigorous, angular melody in the strings. After a few moments, the notes broaden and fragments of the first theme start to emerge. Over this, the winds and harp have a shimmering ostinato (continuous rhythmic pattern). The sustained intensity subsides to intermittent bursts and returns to the slower tempo of the opening section. Remnants of the first theme are heard again in the winds before being fully restated as a short chorale in the strings. A long transition follows: at first echoing the fervor of before and then becoming unmoored from it, seemingly in search of resolution in the work’s coda. An ostinato between the harps and celeste— originally heard in the first section— returns as the piece regains its footing and pace. The coda begins with the celeste joining the violins in a lustrous texture over a melody in the violas. The low strings follow with a sluggish glissando, pulling away from what came before. A final ascension through the orchestra recedes, leaving the harp and celeste to gently bring the piece to its close. The abstractions that would become Catch began to coalesce for Janata during a period of reflection in late 2021.
~ Program Note by Samuel C. Nedel