(‘The wolf’s trail’) , after a poem by Jaroslav Vrchlický, is a superb example of Janácek’s ability to penetrate the essence of literary texts, and to impart through his own creative response some extra dimension of realism and, in this instance, palpable anxiety. The Captain, whose quest for the marauding wolf of the forests takes him through the wind-seared, chill woods all night long, suddenly remembers his beautiful and unfaithful young wife alone at home. Returning after the fruitless quest, he sees the shadowy glimmer of an opening window and the pale hands which opened it; he takes his gun and a fatal shot rings out through the frosty air. ‘This kiss may never end!’—only then does he realize that the wolf’s trail ends at his own marital bed.
from notes by Michael Jameson © 1997