Lubos Fiser (1935-1999).
Sonata IV for Piano.
Luboš Fišer (1935-1999) was one of the most talented Czech composers of his generation. Born in Prague, he studied at the Prague Conservatoire from 1952-1956 and then at the Academy of Music. He was known to the public for his many film scores but it was his other compositions, many of them written under difficult political conditions, which mark him out as a composer of significance.
Fišer’s eight Piano sonatas have a special place in his œuvre. Fišer subsequently eliminated his second sonata (1956) from his compositional repertoire. From the third sonata onwards (1960), subtitled Fantasia, the composer wrote a two-movement composition, in which he continued to incorporate as his fundamental musical device the confrontation of sharp contrasts in tempo and mood. Beginning with his fourth sonata (1962–1964), Fišer created a single-movement work in an expressive, formally focused composition which betrays a progression towards greater compactness of musical shape in a concise yet effective musical testimony. The fifth sonata was written in 1974, the sixth sonata in 1978. The seventh sonata from 1985 was dedicated to František Maxián, the eighth sonata was written in 1995.
Piano Sonata No.4 from the years 1962-1964 is dedicated to the memory of Fiser's friend, the pianist Antonín Jemelík, who died tragically. As a tribute to their friendship the composer incorporated into the introduction a quotation from their favourite work, Piano Sonata No. 10, Op. 70, by Alexander Scriabin. The tragedy of the death of the composer's friend pervades the emotionally intense passage of unison octaves which follows the three-bar quotation. From a compositional point of view this work is a masterpiece of the mid-Sixties. Written as one movement, the piece is divided into numerous mutually contrasting segments which themselves are clearly grouped into two sections, exposition and development. The individual themes are introduced in the first section and thematically expanded in the second section. The motif treatment lies almost exclusively in the fragmenting or curtailing of the theme, or in the use of a combination of several themes, for the most part brief and eloquent. This compositional method, together with a clear-cut manner of execution, mainly semitonal melody and sharply contrastive dynamics, lends force and transparency to the piece. Piano Sonata No.4 was completed in 1964 together with Symphonic Fresco, Concerto da camera for Piano and Orchestra and Fifteen Prints after Dürer's Apocalypse and has earned its rightful place alongside them as masterpieces of Fiser's oeuvre.
The work was first performed by Pavel Stepán in Prague's Rudolfinum in 1965. The new setting for this piece is based on the single edition to date (Panton, 1969); only with regard to a few inconsistencies in the score was it necessary to consult the composer's manuscript (kept at the National Museum - Czech Museum of Music).