01 - The Marriage of Figaro
W.A. Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro (Overture to the opera The Marriage of FigaroK492)
The opener on Revolution pays homage to a genius of music history, explains František Janoska, whose first-born son just happens to be called Amadeus: “We placed Mozart’s Figaro overture at the head of our Revolution album because Mozart was a revolutionary! That’s why our Figaro version briefly quotes the French national anthem, the Marseillaise. Mozart’s music is profoundly serious one minute and light and playful the next –but it is always visionary: sometimes Mozart already sounds like Beethoven or even Schubert!” Unexpected sounds emerge at the boisterous musical marriage of the Janoska Figaro, encouraging listeners to join the celebration: the traditional bridal song, the Jewish song of congratulation Khosn Kale Mazl Tov, joins the virtuosic revelry. There is no excuse to stay sitting quietly at this wedding: everyone is invited to join in the dance!
02 - Yesterday
John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Yesterday
When Paul McCartney came up with the melody to Yesterday, he felt it had a familiar ring to it, and so he played it to other musicians and friends in the business , to make sure it really was his own creation and that he had composed a musical hit. Today, Yesterday is thought to be the most often covered song ever. For his arrangement of this musical gem, František Janoska chose to apply the soft side of the Janoska Style, by playing the tune of Yesterday for long stretches alongside the line from the Prelude of Bach’s Cello Suite no. 1 in G major. Plucked in a restrained pizzicato, this has a special charm. The result is a very coherent version, especially when you recall that the record company at the time gave Yesterday the genre label of “Baroque Pop”.
03 - Praeludium and Allegro in the Style of Gaetano Pugnani
Fritz Kreisler, Prelude and Allegro in the style of Gaetano Pugnani
In the view of Roman and Ondrej Janoska Fritz Kreisler’s oeuvre is challenging and rewarding in equal measure for any violinist: “We really love this piece, because it is typical of the character pieces we like to interpret in the Janoska Style. It demands above all great passion from the violins and is also technically very demanding. We aim to achieve both facets in our version. With our two violins we vary this little work, composed around 1900 as a stylistic copy, in a wide spectrum of new harmonizations and rhythmizations.”
04 - Hello Prince!
Roman Janoska, Hello, Prince!
The members of the Janoska Ensemble have already dedicated several of their own compositions to their children. Roman, the youngest of the brothers, is an improvisation enthusiast who likes to play jazz on his violin, and he recalls: “I was on tour when my wife told me that we were expecting our second child. I was very happy and wanted to capture that joy in a musical way. It was 7 August, or 07.08., which gave me an idea.” And so Roman Janoska worked out his plan for Hello, Prince! in a hotel room. What emerged was a piece full of infectious and joyful energy, infused with numerical symbolism, for it is written in 7/8 time.
05 - Air
Johann Sebastian Bach, Air (2nd movement from the Orchestral Suite no. 3 in D major BWV1068)
Composers from all eras and genres name him as their timeless role model: Johann Sebastian Bach, the great maestro of the Baroque. On Revolution his Air is an arrangement of enchanting facets which form a positively celestial haven of peace. It begins in quite classical style and then develops into a chain of improvisations which runs through each and every instrument. The double bass is particularly unusual in this piece, since it functions mainly as an accompanying instrument, but spontaneously launches into the first solo, which is followed by a piano solo that passes the improvisation to the violin part. The ensemble’s admiration of their favourite composer is tangible in every part and at every moment in the piece. Despite the interspersed blue notes, the free solos and the carefully nuanced jazz harmonies, the “Janoska Bach” remains true to Bach, whose music flows in perfect style and lays claim to an eternal credibility.
06 - Leo's Dance
František Janoska: Leo’s dance
Janoska’s pianist and master arranger František has composed a racy piece of music for his second son, Leonidas. As with Rumba für Amadeus composed for his first-born, Leonidas stands out for its theme that is worthy of a film score, with its thrilling Latin American rhythms and expansive, abrupt chromatic leaps. The theme is introduced suddenly in the form of a fugue between the piano and violin, driving the furious tempo of the Latin American groove. This reckless piece of fiddler’s virtuosity proceeds in improvisational chains and a host of demisemiquavers on all strings. Before the finale we hear an echo of salsa before a cheeky musical wink offers the punchline. The result: the laughter of a happy child! František’s little son clearly enjoys this jaunty music!
07 - Melodie
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Mélodie (“Moderato con moto” from Souvenir d’un lieu cherop. 42)
Tchaikovsky’s original composition –interestingly the only one he wrote for violin and piano –is a melancholy “memory of a beloved place” set to music. The emotions emanating from his tormented Russian soul are not underplayed in the newly arranged Janoska version of the Mélodie: savouring the sweetness of their tone, the violins sing the memorable tune in a duet that, despite its tenderness, is reminiscent of a hit made in Hollywood. A nimble middle movement with strongly contrasting harmonies leads through sections of improvisation back to the original mood, which seems to disappear softly over the horizon, as it were.
08 - Night & Day
František Janoska, Cole over Beethoven
In 1956 rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry wrote his hit Roll over Beethoven, another song which the Beatles very successfully covered. Around the same time, an audience with different musical tastes was enjoying Cole Porter’s pleasant compositions, while faithful lovers of “serious” classical music kept well away from both genres. Since then, the lines have blurred considerably, a fact which may help to explain the enormous success of the Janoska Ensemble. At any rate, in this piece tribute is paid to the undoubted revolutionary musical giant Beethoven, who is “rolled over” by Cole Porter in František Janoska’s imaginative genre mix if only for the play on words. The refined arrangement creates a temporary symbiosis between two musical worlds and results in more than just a “musical jest”.
09 - Penny Lane
John Lennon / Paul McCartney, Penny Lane
In 1967 the famous songwriter duo paid a world-famous tribute with Penny Laneto a street in their home town of Liverpool. The fact that the lyrics describe a host of trivial everyday observations in Penny Lane has done nothing to reduce its success. One compositional detail is however not trivial at all: Penny Lane was written in B major, an unusual key, especially for a pop song, since it has five sharps. So in their version, the Janoska Ensemble stayed true to this accidental-rich key, since it is one which is deemed to be very “bright” in tone. The cheerful theme develops bit by bit from the easy-swing, syncopated melody into the final tango rhythm.
10 - Variations on an Original Theme Op. 15
Henryk Wieniawski, Thème original varié op. 15
In this multi-layered musical collage the theme and variations of Wieniawski’s original are supercharged by the superimposed, improvised variations of the Janoska Ensemble. The ancient musical structure of the Partita skilfully holds both the theme and the variations embedded in the score. A great deal of creativity is required to vary a musical theme spontaneously and in such consistently high quality. Ondrej Janoska can add an anecdote from when the Beatles wrote the song: “The Beatles composed some of their best numbers in the studio. We too wrote some of the tracks for Revolution in the studio. That goes for the arrangement of the Wieniawski Variations, which I have often played in the original. For that reason it was especially exciting for me to perform the piece in a joint version.” One of the Janoska Ensemble’s greatest strengths is precisely the way the musicians spontaneously succeed in combining existing music with new musical ideas that have just come to them. Thanks to their intuitive sense of communication and their sure instinct when playing together, the four musicians can therefore produce a “spontaneous partita” without further ado.
11 - Let it be
Paul McCartney / John Lennon, Let It Be
The transparent, often dream-like mood of this Janoska version of Let It Be, arranged as a piano ballade, is based on the special background to this composition according to František Janoska: “Nearly 20 years after Let It Be was released, Paul McCartney finally admitted in an interview that he had written the melody and lyrics as a reaction to a strange dream he had had in which his mother, who died when he was 14, appeared to him. At a difficult time in his life he dreamt his mother had repeatedly whispered the words ‘let it be’ to him. He said that this had helped him to find spiritual peace and had ultimately inspired him to write this worldwide hit.” The line Let It Be dominates the song to the extent that when listening to this arrangement, many may miss the presence of a second highly successful theme, one written much earlier, in 1694: the famous Canon by Johann Pachelbel. In this refined arrangement, the Canon can be heard in a very subtle manner, as a discreet and good friend, peacefully accompanying the much younger melody hand in hand, as it were.