Critic’s Choice

Wed Feb 20, 2019 at 10:07 am
Matthew Polenzani

Matthew Polenzani

Leoš Janáček composed some of the most strangely beautiful music in the repertoire, from the solo piano piece On an Overgrown Path to his opera The Makrapulos Affair, about a woman who is more than 300 years old. But his most mysterious work may be The Diary of One Who Disappeared, a song cycle for tenor with four accompanying women singers.

The Diary began as a series of poems in the Lidové noviny newspaper. Penned by an anonymous writer, they told the story (in diary form) of a young man who falls in love with Zefka, a Romany girl, and vanishes with her into the woods. Compelling on its own, it was also a tale that had unique appeal to Janacek’s own sentiments about women and romance. Even for those familiar with the composer, the piece is little known and so infrequently recorded or performed as to be nearly forgotten.

This Sunday afternoon, Carnegie Hall offers the chance to hear it in its original form, with singers and piano. Even more compelling, the tenor is the characterful Matthew Polenzani, who will deliver the Diary with Jennifer Johnson Cano, Marie Engle, Megan Grey, and Kathleen O’Mara. The program also includes Brahms’ Zigeunerlieder (Gypsy Songs). The esteemed Julius Drake will be at the piano, and the performance takes place in Zankel Hall.

Matthew Polenzani sings Zigeunerlieder and The Diary of One Who Disappeared 3 p.m. Sunday.

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