Jaroslav Šťastný – Požoň sentimentál

At the first encounter with the phenomenon of Pozon Sentimental the listener can fall easily into a trap. Is this what “New Music” is all about? Is it not just a student joke? A reaction to growing complexity and serious attitudes? Or is it perhaps an expression of the young generation’s neoconservative beliefs?

Alfred Einstein, the German musicologist (cousin of the famous physicist) once made a witty remark that “New Music” is never really absolutely new, instead, it brings a shift in attention on hitherto marginal features, which are stressed as central ones. PS involves several such “shifts of accent”:

1. Accent on local tradition of small towns, as opposed to senseless attempts to follow world trends and attempts to copy the “city” style (computers, lasers, video, etc.)
2. Openness toward the common listener who can find his favourite tunes (in a recycled form) on the programme – as opposed to arrogant and elitist attitudes of the “classical New Music” that does not even count with the audience.

3. Obvious joy from performing, from simple music making – as opposed to “superhuman” virtuosity or conceptual amateurism (two extremes into which “New Music” has been divided).

4. Acceptance of “old-fashioned” styles of the past and their integration into own expression – as opposed to deliberate hostility of all “New Music” toward everything that is old.

But the biggest value brought by PS – one, which legitimizes its activity as truly new music – is its ability to teach us new ways of listening to music. One is somehow brought to a state of constant alert at their concert, because one never knows what to expect. Each piece is in appropriate contrast to the following one, thus even a common konzertstueck (like for instance a short piano piece by Fibich or original piano duet version of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances) is perceived in a different way.

Beethoven’s Fifth, stripped of its overwhelming monumental sound of the original orchestration, or the main theme from the TV series The X Files without its synthesizer layers suddenly reveal their “true” musical face – suddenly we hear more clearly what really goes on in this idealized music. At the concerts of PS, besides enjoying ourselves, we are thus forced to activate our listening habits.

John Cage presented his silence in the early fifties in order to highlight the existence of sounds. Today Pozon has come to say that there is still music.

English translation (c) Peter Zagar, 1998