The Diary of One who Disappeared is still a rarity in the recital hall. Why do you think that is, how did you get to know it, and was it love at first sight?

Janáček’s music was love at first sight for me. I remember seeing David Alden’s production of Jenufaat the London Coliseum when I was a student and being entirely changed by its subject-matter, honesty and immediacy.

Nicky Spence Nicky Spence. Photo © Raphaelle Studio

This epiphany led to my hoarding all of Janáček’s scores into my library and when hitting on upon The Diary, the love affair really began. Luckily I found a similar passion for the work in pianist Julius Drake so we were thrilled when Hyperion asked us to collaborate for this recording.

Practically, I think it’s quite difficult to program The Diaryin performance because of the unusual forces required (tenor, mezzo and a small female chorus). Owing to the music’s immediacy and arresting quality, you need real imagination to find a suitable program-fellow which wouldn’t feel inferior. I think that’s why many promoters have turned to commissioning living composers to write partner pieces inspired by similar themes...