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Czech Radio (Radioservis) CRO618-2 (2012). CD is available from the publisher and from cdmusic.cz. Also available in MP3 from the publisher.

Performed by Skampa Quartet: Helena Jirikovska (violin), Daniela Souckova (violin), Radim Sedmidubsky (viola), Lukas Polak (cello)

Recording Director: Jiri Gemrot
Sound Engineer: Jan Lzicar
Texts: Erik Entwistle, Marta Blalock, Judith Mabary
Translation: Karla Hartl
Booklet editor: Karla Hartl
Cover Design: Petra Mikova
Producer: Anna Novotna

Recorded by Czech Radio on January 10–11, February 24 and March 3, 2012. Released: October 2012.

Skampa Quartet

Skampa Quartet is among the very finest of an outstanding group of contemporary Czech string quartets. Through its mentor, the legendary Smetana Quartet, the ensemble traces its roots to the earliest Czech quartets, such as the Bohemian Quartet. The ensemble has enhanced this heritage with its own well-informed research of the folk song and dance rhythms from which Czech national music grew — to the extent that their recordings of the quartets by Smetana and Janacek are considered the benchmarks against which performances are now being measured. Prizes at international competitions, awards from the Royal Philharmonic Society and an appointment as the first-ever resident artists at Wigmore Hall attest to the competence of the ensemble which has performed since at major festivals worldwide, including Prague, Edinburgh, Schwetzingen, Schleswig-Holstein and Melbourne. From the start, the ensemble established close relationship with the BBC Radio 3, resulting in regular broadcasts from Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, LSO St. Luke’s and the BBC Chamber Music Proms. Teaching has also been an important part of the ensemble’s life, and one that they find particularly rewarding. The members of the Skampa Quartet have held master classes at various places around the world but most importantly at the Royal Academy of Music in London where they were appointed Visiting Professors of Chamber Music in 2001.

Please note that Kapralova's string quartet is in print. Click here for the complete discography of Kapralova's music.

NAVRCHOLU.cz

The three composers also came very close together in these works intellectually - to the point that the way their quartets are performed and combined on this recording gives an impression of a "through-composed" triptych. This triptych culminates with Martinu's Fifth, one of the most important works of the twentieth-century quartet literature. But while the other two composers have not achieved the fame of Martinu, their fine compositions provide dignified companionship to his acclaimed work; be it the highly individual quartet of Kapral or the youthful string quartet of Kapralova, which enchants the listener from the first measures by its freshness and vitality. The Skampa Quartet also lives up to its reputation as one of the most renowned Czech quartets; theirs is a highly sophisticated and sensitive performance that attests to their extraordinary musical imagination.—— Veroslav Nemec for Czech Music Quarterly 1 (2013): 39-40.

Vsichni tri skladatele maji k sobe v techto dilech zjevne blizko i myslenkove, a to tak dalece, ze spolecne provedeni jejich kvartetu na tomto CD budi az dojem „prokomponovaneho“ triptychu. Tento triptych pochopitelne vrcholi zavaznym 5. kvartetem B. Martinu, jednim z nejvyznamnejsich del kvartetni literatury 20. stoleti. Ale predchozi dve skladby – ac jejich autori nedosahli vehlasu Martinu – tvori tomuto slavnemu dilu dustojne spolecenstvi, a to jak osobity Smyccovy kvartet Vaclava Kaprala, oscilujici mezi pozdnim romantismem a janackovskou reflexi moravskeho folkloru, tak i mladistvy Smyccovy kvartet Vitezslavy Kapralove, ktery okouzli posluchace uz od prvnich taktu svou svezesti a vitalitou. Skampovo kvarteto nezustalo na teto nahravce nic dluzno svemu renome. Jeho hra se vyznacuje obdivuhodnou kultivovanosti, emotivnosti a neobycejnou hudebni fantazii. Interpreti nejenze bezpochyby vnimali skrytou programnost vsech tri skladeb, ale dokazali onen „program“ tlumocit posluchacum do nejjemnejsich vyrazovych zachvevu. Uz jen pro tuto „programnost“ se poslech vsech tri kvartetu stava temer dobrodruznou vypravou – a rozhodne stoji za to se na ni s Kapralovymi a s Martinu vydat. —— Veroslav Nemec for Harmonie, March 2013.

Z poslechu kvarteta Vitezslavy Kapralove bychom jiste nehadali, ze ho zkomponovala ve dvaceti letech a uprostred studii, nebot skladba pusobi vyzrale. Ma na tom bezesporu svuj podil take naprosto presvedciva interpretace protagonistu CD, kterymi jsou Helena Jirikovska – prim, Daniela Souckova – sekund, Radim Sedmidubsky – viola a Lukas Polak – violoncello. Jejich pojeti ma v sobe jak vyrazovou nalehavost (napr. v krasne vystavenych dlouhych frazich v pomale vete), tak brilanci ve zvladani nemalych technickych naroku dila a v neposledni rade svezest a vtip, ktery je pro skladatelku tak typicky. Milovnici kvartetni hudby by si toto CD, ktere je navic vydareno i z hlediska grafiky a urovne textu bookletu, rozhodne nemeli nechat ujit. —— Alice Rajnohova for Opus Musicum 45, no. 1 (2013).

This disc will particularly interest those intrigued by the links between the three composers. The disc opens with a quartet by Vaclav Kapral, a pupil of Janacek whose influence is apparent in this engaging work. Martinu's 5th Quartet is already well represented in the catalogues but this new recording brings us a fresh interpretation from the admirable Skampa Quartet. Kapralova's own quartet pre-dates her meeting with Martinu. It has been recorded before but this performance presents a more authentic edition of the score, restoring previous cuts. It shows that at the time of its composition in 1936, Kapralova's idiom had evolved beyond the influence of her father and was developing a distinctive and appealing voice of its own. —— Greg Terian for Martinu Revue (Spring 2013).

Per quanto riguarda l’esecuzione, i tre brani sono affidati al Quartetto Skampa, formato da Helena Jirikovska e Daniela Souckova (violini), Radim Sedmidubsky (viola) e LukaS Polak (violoncello), compagine di elevato livello, degna erede del Quartetto Smetana, al quale si ispira, a cominciare dal nome scelto, quello del violista del leggendario ensemble. La compagine, caratterizzata da un perfetto affiatamento, da vita ad un’interpretazione di grande intensita, che trasferisce all’ascoltatore grandi emozioni, evidenziando nel contempo tutti i particolari e le sfumature di tre composizioni di ottima fattura. —— Marco del Vaglio for criticaclassica, August 2013.

Uno splendido cd, che possiede numerosi pregi, fra i quali quello di fornire un ulteriore apporto alla discografia dedicata a Vitezslava Kapralova. —— Marco del Vaglio for Nuova e Nostra, January 2014.

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