More recent reviews, listed in the order of their publication date, with the latest review on the top of the page. For reviews by year, follow the menu in the left column.
In Review: Samantha Ege’s Four Women
Stepping confidently into the minefield of socially corrective art history, British pianist Samantha Ege offered up a touchingly personal and powerfully interpreted collection of works titled Four Women in May of 2018.
Ege’s account of her encounters with the music of Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, and Vitezslava Kapralova call to mind the experience of finding home in a place one has never been.
She describes immediately connecting to Kapralova’s musical language and Price’s distinctive voice, rich with historical depth and empathy. That feeling is palpable in her playing.
... For Kaprálová, a young Czech composer-pianist-conductor, the piano is liquid orchestra, alternately roaring, destroying, dripping, and flowing within the landscape of a complex emotional life. ...
Four Women is truly a gem for pianists, listeners, musicologists, and cultural thinkers alike.
From a review by Cara Search for the Sybaritic Singer, November 20, 2018
Stunning piano music by four neglected female composers. Four Women: Piano music by Price, Kapralova, Bilsland and Bonds. Samantha Ege, pno. Wave Theory digital only release.
Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) carved an impressive path as an acclaimed composer and conductor,
rubbing shoulders with Czech musical royalty before tragically dying of tuberculosis at 25. Her Sonata Appassionata (1933) and April Preludes (1937)
are captivating, harmonically rich modernist works that, like the rest of this most impressive collection,
are performed with virtuosic assurance and deserving of far greater recognition that they have thus far received.
From a review by Lisa MacKinney for the Limelight Magazine, October 2018
FOUR WOMEN: MUSIC FOR SOLO PIANO BY PRICE, KAPRALOVA, BILSLAND, AND BONDS. Price: Sonata in E Minor: I. Andante – Allegro. II. Andante. III. Scherzo. Bilsland: The Birthday Party: I. Friends to Tea. II. Peep-Bo. III. Tin Soldiers. IV. Battledore and Shuttlecock. V. Ring O’Roses. VI. Sleepy Song. Kapralova: Dubnova preludia (April Preludes), Op. 13: I. Allegro ma non trope. II. Andante. III. Andante semplice. IV. Vivo. Sonata appassionata, Op. 6: I. Maestoso. II. Theme and variations. Bonds: Troubled Water / Samantha Ege, pianist / Wave Theory Records WT2018006D.
In an effort to bring a greater number of musical works by women of color—and women composers in general—to public attention, pianist Samantha Ege has completed an insightful recorded performance of a delightfully varied collection of pieces for solo piano. Ege titled the CD herself inspired by the song of Nina Simone, also called “Four Women,” released in 1966. The narrative projected in the selection of works for this recording is a more positive one than portrayed by Simone, however, in that Ege brings to light several nearly forgotten works from a variety of talented women, whose compositions, because of their creators’ gender, historical time, and race or ethnicity, have remained more or less unknown.
The two selections from Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) reveal an unusually high degree of compositional maturity for such a young composer. Sonata appassionata (1933), written when she was eighteen, resulted from her student days at the Brno Conservatory, from which she claimed the distinction of being its first woman graduate. That she lived a mere twenty-five years is one of history’s cruel tragedies. Her story is well known to readers of this journal; her music is likewise becoming more familiar through the scores and CDs released with the aid of the Kapralova Society and artists such as Ege. Kapralova’s compositional style was subject to a variety of influences, from Impressionism to Czech folk tradition to the idiosyncracies of her mentor, Bohuslav Martinu. She was equally at home with the lyricism of her national heritage as with a modernist sound palette energized by Baroque techniques. Written to fulfill a school assignment, Sonata appassionata, Op. 6, represents an ambitious and virtuosic work in two movements lasting approximately twenty minutes. The first movement maestoso is held in place by the expected sonata form. Its slow, chordal introduction begins a series of explorations of the entirety of the keyboard that form the basis of extended harmonies and passages of circuitous motion steered in various directions. Such motion results in segments of momentary stasis in the spirit of Impressionism. What follows in the second movement is a straightforward folk-derived tune and six variations, the last of which is an extended and difficult fugue that occupies almost half the work. The movement displays an overall cyclical purpose when, after introducing a series of thickly textured and pungent dissonances, it resolves by recalling the majestic block chords of the first movement opening. Dubnova preludia (April Preludes), Op. 13, was completed four years later in 1937 and was written for Czech pianist Rudolph Firkušný, who became close friends with both Martinu and Kapralova. Although the title suggests a programmatic basis, Firkušný claimed that it was determined because the idea to compose the preludes had, according to Kapralova, occurred to her in the month of April. The four movements are loosely united by various forms of a five-note melodic motive; each prelude decorates a different formal structure, ranging from ternary to toccata, with a harmonic language that has grown progressively more complex since 1933. In addition, world events and the actions of an increasingly powerful Nazi regime may have left their mark on this work in terms of its moments of harsh dissonance. In the second prelude, for instance, allegedly inspired by the slow movement of Martinu’s Second Piano Concerto, Impressionist-tinged qualities are wiped clean by a sense of determined fatalism. Whereas the second prelude was driven by dissonance, the third (andante semplice) is an exercise in its opposite, more in line, at least in certain passages, with the miniatures of Bilsland than with the preceding two movements. The final prelude (vivo) takes on the character of a grotesque dance—not surprisingly, a quick polka—that accelerates to a forceful conclusion.
Samantha Ege is to be congratulated, not only for her insightful interpretation, particularly in the works of Bilsland and Bonds, but for her goal to bring the music of these composers to greater public awareness. Their works make for an interesting and balanced program, to say the least. The greater benefit of this collection, however, is to bring to life a representation of the diversity of compositional efforts by women composing during the first half of the twentieth century and to recall the political and social environments in which—and in spite of which—they were driven to express their unique artistic identities.
From a review by Judith Mabary for the Kapralova Society Journal, Fall 2018
EntArteOpera Festival: Violinkoncert und Doppelkonzerte. Ethel Smyth: Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra; Vitezslava Kapralova:
Concerto for Violin, Clarinet and Orchestra; Karl Amadeus Hartmann: Concerto ‘funebre’ for Violin and Strings; Bohuslav Martinu:
Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra. Thomas Albertus Irnberger, violin, Reinhard Wieser, Clarinet, Milena Viotti, horn,
Wiener Concert-Verein, Doron Salomon; Michael Korstick, piano, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Georgishes Kammerorchester Ingolstadt,
Martin Sieghart. Gramola CD 99098.
In Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) we encounter a personality whose development was brought to an abrupt end by her early death
so that we can only speculate about the important role she might have played in the music of the 20th century. For a long time
barely noticed, in recent years a strong interest has developed in her work, most of which, fortunately, has appeared in good
editions and has, in part, already been released on CD. In all these efforts the Canadian Kapralova Society, which was founded
only in 1998 and is devoted to the composer’s creative work, has played a major role. A particularly interesting aspect of
Kapralova’s varied oeuvre is that it was not influenced primarily by French musical life or by her contemporaries in that
country. Instead she remained focused on a tonally-centred expressionism, and in this regard is related to those of her
immediate Czech and Austrian countrymen who did not employ the twelve-tone system, for example Korngold, Schreker, Zemlinsky or
Kornauth. The Concertino for Violin, Clarinet and Orchestra, op. 21 (1939) is without doubt one of her most advanced works
in which she takes a highly personal path among the very different stylistic tendencies of the 1920s and 1930s.
From an article by Christian Heindl for Gramola.
Samantha Ege, FOUR WOMEN. Kapralova’s [April] Preludes are wonderfully angular and spiky, and you can hear the pathos in Ege’s playing:
This is music that draws you in while simultaneously asserting itself against the listener with its chromaticism and changeable textural landscape.
Ege understands these pieces on a fundamental level, and her rapport with the music comes shining through in her playing. I must note here also the high quality of the recording;
the production is clean and intimate and perfectly suited to Ege’s nuanced performances. Be sure to check out this album of wonderful and too-often-neglected pieces: they’re in good hands.
From a review by Meghan Wilhoite for Meg’s new music blog, June 15, 2018.
Four Women: Music for Solo Piano by Price, Kapralova, Bilsland, and Bonds. Wave Theory Records MP3 release (May 4, 2018).
Looking for sophisticated music for piano? Look no further. This interesting recording is offering much diversity in terms of artist voices,
compositional styles and musical genres, ranging from piano miniatures to sonatas.
Kapralova is arguably the winner of this album. While her compositions for piano have
now been recorded a number of times and by some major labels that include
Koch International Classics and Naxos, Samantha Ege discovers tenderness in Kapralova’s
music not found on the other discs. The two sonatas featured on the disc (one by
Kapralova, the other by Price) alone are worth buying the album but the whole project
is certainly worth your time. Wave Theory Records has produced a technically fine
recording, with a beautifully spacious sound. Congrats on a project well done!
A review by Karel Dragoun for amazon.com, May 2018.
Dirigentky jsou porad vzacnosti.
Vojenska symfonieta Vitezslavy Kapralove je presne to dilo, ktere ma v roce steho vyroci vzniku republiky zaznit. Je venovana prezidentu Edvardu Benesovi a mlada dvaadvacetileta autorka osobne dirigovala jeji premieru – 26. listopadu 1937 v Lucerne. Pozvat pro tuto skladbu dirigentku, ktera navic Kapralove dilo dobre zna a v roce 2015 ho kompletne uvedla, byla idealni volba. Symfonieta, ve ktere clovek podvedome vzdy slysi neco z Janacka a neco z Martinu, vyznela ve velke symfonicke siri. A Olga Machonova Pavlu vedla orchestr jasnymi a zaroven jemne elegantnimi gesty. Divak se nemohl ubranit dojmu, ze by Kapralova po dvaceti letech dirigovala prave takto.
From a review by Jindrich Balek for OperaPlus, February 2, 2018.
Vitezslava Kapralova, Dopisy domu. Korespondence rodicum z let 1935-1940.
Ed. Karla Hartl. The Kapralova Society, Toronto 2015, 312 stran a 50 obr.;
Vitezslava Kapralova, Dopisy laskam. Rudolfu Kopcovi a Jirimu Muchovi. Korespondence z let 1938-1940. Dil druhy souborne korespondence. Ed. Karla Hartl. The Kapralova Society, Toronto 2016, 136 stran a 16 obr.;
Vitezslava Kapralova, Dopisy pratelum a jina korespondence z let 1935-1940. Dil treti souborne korespondence. Ed. Karla Hartl. The Kapralova Society, Toronto 2017, 104 stran.
Prvni svazek souborne korespondence Vitezslavy Kapralove (Dopisy domu) v edici Karly Hartlove se dockal vreleho prijeti a dalsi dva si udrzely stejne vysoky standard
objevnosti, peclivosti zpracovani i krasnym stylovym designem (graficky upravil Lukas Hytha). Cesky ctenar nemuze vzit kterykoli z techto tri svazku do rukou jinak
nez s pocitem piety a ucty k zivotu a dilu teto jedinecne skladatelske osobnosti. Kompetentni edice, ktera snese prisna hlediska prace s dokumenty, prichazi ve svou
dobu. Od konce druhe svetove valky se pohledy na Kapralovou, jeji zivotni pribeh a jeji tvorbu postupne promenovaly, pricemz jeji korespondence v nich hrala dulezitou
roli - ovsem prevazne v utrzkove podobe, nejednou v nepresnych citacich a skoro vzdy ve vecnem vykladu az prilis uzpusobenem optice toho ktereho autora. Prvni mensi
studie na tema Kapralove mely prevazne raz vzpominek a osobnich uvah jejich soucasniku. Cestnou vyjimku z takoveho ladeni maji dve muzikologicky pojate studie, Otakara
Sourka (Orchestralni a komorni hudba Kapralove) a Ludvika Kundery (Klavirni a vokalni dilo Kapralove), otistene v pietnim sborniku, usporadanem po skonceni valky
Premyslem Prazakem. Podat "co nejpresvedcivejsi obraz umelecke osobnosti" se pokusil v padesatych letech monografii "Vitezslava Kapralova" Jiri Macek a velka exploze
dalsiho zajmu se odehrala pozdeji, podnicena literarni cinnosti skladatelcina manzela, spisovatele Jiriho Muchy. [...]
Umelecke uchopeni ciziho, realneho zivota prinasi vzdy subjektivni deformaci v pohledu na nej a na jeho spolecenske ukotveni, jak jsme toho svedky u kazdeho
biografickeho ohlasu - pripomenme napriklad pro muzikologa jen velice malo presvedcivou filmovou vizi Formanova Mozarta, originalniho Beethovena Agnieszky Hollande
nebo treba genialni romanovou metaforu Arnolda Schoenberga u Thomase Manna (Doktor Faustus). Muzikologie se vsak snazi od subjektivniho domysleni tvurci osobnosti
odhlednout a pokrocit v analyze dale, aby na zaklade spolehlivych faktu dosahla soudu, ktere jsou obecne platne ci alespon obstoji ve vecne kritice. Takovy velky prvni
krok spolehlivosti v pohledu na zivot a dilo Kapralove ucinila prave az cilevedoma prace Karly Hartlove, ktera se stala mezinarodnim garantem odkazu vyznamne ceske
skladatelky. [...] Zivotni zajem o tuto
skladatelku ozdobila impozantni cinnosti v jejim jmene (mimo jine vydanim takrka veskereho zivotniho dila Kapralove tiskem a na hudebnich nosicich). Vydane tri svazky
korespondence prenaseji nyni tuto aktivitu do skladatelciny vlasti a jsou velkou splatkou na dluh, ktery vuci Vitezslave Kapralove mame.
Kazdy z nich umoznuje orientaci po vecne spriznenem vyseku profilu osobnosti a jejiho (bohuzel neprilis rozmerneho) zivotniho dila. [...] Pro badatele, ktery na tema
Vitezslava Kapralova vytvori analytickou monografii, oprenou o spolehliva pramenna vychodiska, jsou tyto knihy neocenitelnou zakladnou. Netreba poznamenavat, ze
k tomuto ukolu je dnes asi nejlepe pripravena prave editorka teto korespondence, jak to dokladaji jeji kompetentni komentare a poznamkovy aparat.
Z recenze Jaroslava Mihuleho pro Hudebni vedu 3/2017, pp. 363-64.
Kapralova: Complete Piano Music. Giorgio Koukl – klavir. Grand Piano / Naxos 2017
[…] Približne ve “zlatem rezu” desky jsou umistena Dubnova preludia z roku 1937. Toto sve vrcholne klavirni dilo Kapralova venovala pianistovi
Rudolfu Firkusnemu a dycha z nej znalost Janackovych klavirnich cyklu i již takrka probuzena osobnost ceske skladatelky. Hudba je uvolnena,
impresionisticky naladova, zaroven konkretni a presna. Kapralova se “nevykecava”, sklada kvalitne a vycizelovane.
Na Dubnova preludia bezprostredne navazuje Sest malych variaci na zvony kostela Saint-Etienne-du-Mont z roku 1938. V nich Kapralova prozrazuje
invenci i znalost kompozicni techniky blizke skladatelum mezivalecne Parize.
Tato tri dila tvori zakladni osu, kolem niž se toci dalsi kompozice na albu. At už se jedna o Pet klavirnich skladeb, ktere Kapralova napsala
coby sestnactileta, nebo kratickou Slavnostni fanfaru. Vsechny prozrazuji suverenni zachazeni s hudebnim materialem […].
From a review by Boris Klepal for Hospodarske noviny online, August 22, 2017.
KAPRALOVA: Piano Pieces
Czech composer-conductor Vitezslava Kapralova was a versatile and adventurous artist who died too young to realize her full potential
but left behind some impressive music. [...] We can only wish there were more to the brief life and career of this remarkable composer.
The recording of Koukl's Steinway D, made in Lugano, is big and sonorous.
Karla Hartl of the Kapralova Society, is responsible for the authoritative notes.
From a review by Sullivan for American Record Guide, July 2017.
KAPRALOVA: Complete piano music
Vif, plein de fantaisie, le jeu de Koukl (serviteur patente de la musique de Martinu) met en valeur toute la singularite de la Passacaille grotesque,
des Pieces op.9, des Deux bouquets de fleurs de 1935 et d’autres miniatures (Ostinato Fox, Fanfare festive). On decouvre aussi, grace a lui, deux pages majeures
regorgeant d’énergie juvenile, d’idees fraiches et hardies : les quatre beaux Preludes d’avril op.13 (1937) et les
Variations sur le carillon de l’eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont op.16 (1938), parfaite illustration du vocabulaire musical assez recherche de la jeune Tcheque,
avec ses harmonies extremement originale.
From a review by Patrick Szersnovicz for Diapason, May 2017.
Muses Trio: The Spirit and the Maiden. Christa Powell, violin; Louise King, cello; Therese Milanovic, piano. Published by Muses Trio;
Australian Music Center, 2760 (2016).
The Muses Trio conceived of and recorded a CD which contains some of the most rare and beautiful compositions in the repertoire.
Rather than a haphazard sampling of the works of eminent women composers, this eclectic and extraordinary assemblage of compositions shares the governing
premise of aestheticism by engendering beauty and impacting the senses, the intellect, and the emotions of the audience.
[…] As the final member of the historical vanguard of women composers included on this CD, Vitezslava Kapralova’s Elegie for violin a piano reflects the
Zeitgeist of her times. Written in Paris a year and a half before her untimely death, Elegie exemplified the impending horror that would engulf Europe through
the somber melody, the cultural musical language, and the dissonant harmonic material occurring in the piano. […] The quality of the performances of the Muses Trio throughout speaks to their ability to seemingly effortlessly access an extensive range of emotions and technique.
From a review by Kimberly Green for the IAWM Journal 23, No. 1 (2017): 30-31.
Vitezslava Kapralova. Complete piano music. Giorgio Koukl (piano). Grand Piano GP708
Sous les doigts du pianiste tcheque Giorgio Koukl (eleve de Fevrier, Neuhaus et Firkusny), cette musique temoigne d’un evident interet pour
les heritages de Janacek, Martinu, les inflexions tcheques, les recherches formelles de Bartok,
mais aussi de la claire vision futuriste de Kapralova qui, aurait-elle vecu, serait devenue sans aucun doute possible l’une des plus considerables figures musicales de son temps.
Une bonne partie de ces enregistrements sont des premieres discographiques mondiales.
From a review by -SM- for Qobuz.com, May 2017.
Vitezslava Kapralova: Integrale dei brani per pianoforte solo
Un recente cd pubblicato dalla Grand Piano (etichetta nata nel 2012 in seno alla Naxos e distribuita in Italia da Ducale Music) ci permette di parlare nuovamente di Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940).
Il disco, patrocinato dalla Kaprálová Society, ed affidato all’interpretazione di Giorgio Koukl, comprende l’integrale dei brani per pianoforte solo della compositrice ceca e si apre con la Sonata Appassionata, op. 6 (1933),
scritta quando aveva solo diciotto anni e studiava al Conservatorio di Brno, sua citta natale.
I successivi Preludio e Canone cancrizzante, dai Tre pezzi per pianoforte, op. 9, cosi come la Passacaglia, furono composti nel 1935 a Praga, dove la Kapralova era giunta per
perfezionarsi con Novak, e si focalizzano su alcune forme classiche del passato, rivisitate in un’ottica moderna.
Breve passo indietro con le Cinque composizioni per pianoforte (1931-32) denotanti un’impressionante maturita, se si pensa che furono create fra i 16 ed i 17 anni.
Esse ebbero un destino diverso, in quanto le prime quattro furono orchestrate tre anni dopo e racchiuse nella Suite en miniature, op. 1, mentre la conclusiva divenne un pezzo a sé stante,
sempre per pianoforte, intitolato Marcia funebre, op. 2.
Al periodo praghese risale anche Dubnova Preludia (Preludi d’aprile), op. 13, datato 1937,
che non solo rappresenta uno degli apici della produzione della Kapralova, ma risulta anche il suo pezzo piu eseguito ed inciso.
Le Variazioni sul carillon della chiesa di Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, op. 16 (1938) appartengono
invece agli ultimi anni, quelli parigini, durante i quali l’autrice incontrò prestigiose personalità artistiche, che contribuirono a consolidare e perfezionare il suo stile.
La parte conclusiva del cd e rivolta a composizioni brevissime quali Pisnicka (Canzoncina, 1936) e, in prima registrazione mondiale, la Danza per pianoforte, op. 23 (1940)
ricostruita da Koukl a partire da un manoscritto originale, Dve kyticky (Due bouquet di fiori, 1935), Ostinato Fox (1937) e Slavnostni Fanfara (Fanfara festiva, 1940).
Riguardo all’esecuzione, il pianista, clavicembalista e compositore praghese Giorgio Koukl si conferma interprete rigoroso e di elevato spessore, che esalta una serie di brani di grande interesse e talora molto complessi.
In conclusione un disco che contribuisce ad evidenziare il fondamentale contributo della Kapralova alla musica europea del Novecento, nonostante la sua brevissima parabola terrena.
Review by Marco del Vaglio for Critica Classica, April 14, 2017. Reprinted by permission.
Vitezslava Kapralova. Complete piano music. Giorgio Koukl (piano). Grand Piano GP708
Joy unconfined: there have been quite a few samples of Kapralova's piano pieces before but a complete collection such as this is of inestimable value.
From Kapralova's early Five PIano Pieces through to final Dance for Piano, reconstructed by Mr. Koukl,
we can now hear how Kapralova, starting from an astonishingly high level of creation, developed
as a composer in a brief time, and one gains a hint of the direction of travel that would have confirmed
her as one of the century's leading composers and performers. [...] My suspicion is that other labels will take up a similar programme
and that can only be to the benefit of Kapralova's reception worldwide. As for this CD, it is up to the
permanent high standards of the Grand Piano label and the performances and interpretations are exemplary.
From a review by Peter Herbert for The Dvorak Society Newsletter, April 2017.
KAPRALOVA. Complete piano music. Giorgio Koukl (piano). Grand Piano GP708 65:27 mins/
Giorgio Koukl's survey of her complete solo piano music spans the years 1933 to 1940 and includes world premiere recordings,
among them her final piano work, an unpublished Dance reconstructed by Koukl; intriguingly, it seems to pre-echo the spirit of Martinu's
Etudes and Polkas. The masterpieces here are the April Preludes and Variations sur le Carillon de l'eglise St. Etienne-du-Mont, but it is
good to hear them in context of works all reflecting Kapralova's early emotional and pianistic maturity.
From a review by John Allison for BBC Music Magazine, April 2017.
Vitezslava Kapralova. Complete piano music, Giorgio Koukl.
There is a good deal to absorb in the 65 minute playing time of this CD of eleven works, four never before heard in recorded form, ranging from 1931-32 when she was but 16-17 years old, to some of her very last works of 1938-40.
There is some connection to Janacek to be heard, though never in some obvious way. Indeed, her father Vaclav Kapral was a pupil of the master composer. But in the end, this is, in its finest moments (and there are many), irredeemably Kapralovian - a young talent following her own muse.
Some 77 years after her death we can still feel the musical pulse quickening in her aural self. Eerie, tragic, but triumphant for what little chance she had to give us her musical vision and what she left for us to contemplate.
Appreciate that we are here to experience her music now. Not every life is long!
From a review by Grego Applegate Edwards for Gapplegate Classical Modern Music Review, March 30, 2017.
Vitezslava Kapralova “Complete piano music”. Giorgio Koukl, piano. (Grand Piano/Naxos)
Flera av verken är sedan tidigare inspelade. Hennes mest kända stycke ”Aprilpreludier” (“Dubnova preludia”) finns till exempel med på Bengt Forsbergs utmärkta album ”Neglected works for piano” från i fjol med flera andra förbisedda tonsättare. Men ingen sammanställning är lika heltäckande som Koukls och eftersom pianot är så centralt i Kapralovas komponerande är ”Complete piano music” samtidigt en ypperlig introduktion.
En sprudlande kraft som gör att Kapralovas musik sköljer över en och sveper en med sig, obeveklig som en vårflod. […] Under efterkrigstiden föll hon i glömska, men de senaste decennierna har intresset för Kapralovas musik vaknat. Kanske delvis tack vare makens memoarer från 1988.
I dag arbetar The Kapralova Society i Kanada aktivt för att lyfta fram hennes musik.
From a review by Johanna Paulsson for Dagens Nyheter, March 10, 2017.
"Petit soleil" musical
La premiere fois que j’ai retenu le nom de Vitezslava Kapralova (Brno, 1915 ; Montpellier, 1940), c’etait en lisant le roman Le palais de verre de Simon Mawer, même si ce nom, je l’avais deja rencontre en suivant des emissions consacrees sur France Musique par la regrettee Mildred Clary a la vie de Bohuslav Martinu.
Celle que sa mere devait surnommer “slunicko“ (“petit soleil“) composait a neuf ans sa premiere melodie intitulee “Du domaine des fables “. Son pere, Vaclav Kapral, egalement compositeur, avait ete l’eleve de Leos Janacek puis de Vitezslav Novak a Prague. Elle devait etudier la direction avec Vaclav Talich (se plaignant qu’on ne voyait guere le Maitre), connaitre un succes international (l’execution a Londres en 1938, par l’orchestre de la BBC place sous sa direction, de sa Sinfonietta Militaire op. 11: les femmes chefs d'orchestre ne couraient pas les rues alors, moins encore qu'aujourd'hui), venir etudier a Paris avec une bourse du gouvernement français, se lier avec Martinu qu’elle avait rencontre a Prague, se marier avec Jiri Mucha qu’elle avait rencontre a Saint-Germain-des-Pres, et mourir de maladie le 16 juin 40, en pleine debacle.
Voici l’integrale de sa musique pour piano seul sous les doigts de Giorgio Koukl, un eleve de Rudolf Firkusny (lequel appreciait la compositrice, tout comme Rafael Kubelik); en particulier
Les Cinq compositions (1931-32),
La brillante Sonate appassionata op. 6 (1933), en deux mouvements, qui ouvre le disque,
Les Preludes d’Avril (1937) dedies a Firkusny,
Les Variations sur le carillon de l’Eglise Saint-Etienne du Mont op. 16 (1938), et
La Danse pour piano (1940, reconstruite par Girgio Koukl).
Des les cinq compositions (et le memorable “comme une Marche funebre“ qui les conclut, que Kapralova devait ensuite orchestrer comme son op. 2), des la Sonate Appassionata, des le second theme attachant de son premier mouvement, et les variations si spirituelles du second, Kapralova devait trouver la voie d’une musique peu orthodoxe et tout a fait personnelle, une musique qui semble l’echo d’un temps ou on cherchait la liberte en toute chose et ou on honorait l’insouciance (pour les dernieres œuvres, c’est pourtant celui des accords de Munich). Post-debussyste, ni tout a fait Janacek ni tout a fait Martinu, negation en acte de l’esprit de pesanteur, la musique de Kapralova (que Martinu appelait “chansonnette“), jamais triviale, possede un charme indeniable et elle met aisement l’auditeur dans sa poche. On devrait jouer plus souvent a Paris celle qui y a vecu les deux annees les plus fecondes de sa breve existence.
PS. Lire sur Forum Opera de Nicolas Derny “Vitezslava Kapralova, portrait amoureux et musical“.
Review by Denis Urval for amazon.fr, March 6, 2017.
Vítezslava KAPRÁLOVÁ (1915-1940). Complete Piano Music
This disc was a revelation, illuminating as it does an amazing and surprising talent that burned for
an altogether too brief period between the two world wars [...] brought to life with exciting clarity by
Giorgio Koukl who always delivers performances designed to champion whichever composer he has turned his
attention to. This is a fabulous, thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating disc of truly inspirational music and
considerable thanks are due to the hard work of Karla Hartl and her organisation The Kapralova Society
(www.kapralova.org) for collecting together and publishing her music and generally ensuring she becomes as
well known as she deserves to be. The website is well worth checking out for a complete discography of
From a review by Steve Arloff for MusicWeb International, March 1, 2017.
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kapralova piano music.
Don’t look away just because the composer’s name is unfamiliar and has too many syllables. Kapralova (1915-1940) is a vital link in Czech music. [...] Kapralova’s expression is uniquely her own, inflected with hints of Debussy and Berg but original, vivacious and captivating.
From a review by Norman Lebrecht for Open Letters Monthly - an Arts and Literature Review, February 10, 2017.
Lebrecht Weekly – Complete piano music of Vitezslava Kapralova is compelling listening
Daughter of a Leos Janacek student and herself the secret lover of Bohuslav Martinu, Kapralova flowered in France and Britain in the last years before the Second World War.
In addition to composing she was an active conductor, the first woman to raise a baton on BBC television – unscreened, in an experimental studio – and she was widely praised at a London international festival of contemporary music. [...]
Her piano masterpiece dates from 1937 and is dedicated to the pianist Rudolf Firkusny, who had introduced her to Martinu. Dubnova Preludia (April preludes) calls to mind the Slavonic fixation with climate, from Tchaikovsky’s Seasons
to Janacek’s In the Mists, with a touch of April in Paris.
Kapralova’s expression is uniquely her own, inflected with hints of Debussy and Berg but original, vivacious and captivating. Just nine minutes long, it gives the strongest possible indication of her untapped potential.
From a review by Norman Lebrecht for La Scena Musicale, February 10, 2017.
Lebrecht Listens: The Chronicles of Vitezslava Kapralova
Kapralova’s expression is uniquely her own, inflected with hints of Debussy and Berg but original, vivacious and captivating. [...] With Kapralova’s tragic death and her country’s totalitarian subjugation,
Czech music went flat for a very long time. Giorgio Koukl’s chronicle of her life at the piano provides compelling listening.
From a review by Norman Lebrecht for Musical Toronto, February 10, 2017.
The Female Janacek
There are too few recordings of Kapralova's music and almost none currently in print. Good luck finding a copy of her piano and chamber music on Koch and her
Piano Concerto in D minor. Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) is slowly being recognized as an important Czech modernist and woman-composer of distinction. Martinu,
her one-time teacher and lover, held her in great esteem and remarked, "rarely have I had the opportunity to encounter such genuine talent..."
Despite her studies with Martinu and before that Novak, neither seems to have been the principal force that shaped her tonal language and expressive predilections.
I don't hear the spirit of Martinu in her work, but rather a post-Romantic style absorbing French impressionism and modern Slavic influences.
The Sonata Appassionata op. 6 (1933) is a thunderous curtain-opener and astonishing feat by an 18-year-old. It certainly lives up to its title, as it overflows with
youthful passion and intensity. The opening "Maestoso" explodes with heroic grandeur and sonorous piano writing, buttressed by thick brawny chords and sharp
dissonance. After this heated powerhouse, the second movement—a theme and variations—is relaxed and crepuscular, featuring a sweetly insouciant theme and variations
lingering in a gentler intimate world with none of the vehemence of the previous movement. The final variation is an outstanding and magisterial fugue that has
much in common with Myaskovsky's dissonant counterpoint and severity of mood. Three Piano Pieces op. 9 (1935) are excellent, with an impetuous "Praeludium"
sounding like French impressionism in the doldrums, while the "Crab Canon" is stern and dwells in the lower registers with an emphatic bass line.
Grotesque Passacaglia (1935) manages to be equally creepy and sardonic, owing to its menacing rhythmic figures and violent energy.
The Five Piano Compositions (1931-32) are student works, tonal, and generally short enough to be aphorisms. The first "Maestoso" brushes shoulders with early
Scriabin, while the last "Alla marcia funebre" is a significant piece: impassioned, full-blooded, and donning a wistful march theme of memorable character.
Kapralova may earn a place in the keyboard literature for her April Preludes (1937). There's a maturity and tonal advancement in them that goes beyond vanilla
modernism. For example, the "Andante" is a blend of mysterious sonorities out of the Russian Silver Age, coupled with the austerity of Ruth Crawford-Seeger
and Messiaen birdsong. Apart from its suave French colors, the "Allegro ma non troppo" seems to bubble with agitation, while the impressionist-tinged "Vivo" is
a bright and extroverted affair.
Variations sur le carillon de l'eglise St-Etienne du Mont op. 16 (1938) is a short work of its kind at only 8 minutes. A dreamy theme is treated to
variations of brittle Stravinskyan rhythms, glittering and brilliant figurations, tender Romanticism, and quietly dignified counterpoint. The final variation is
the most dramatic and lively, ending abruptly without tonal resolution, as if with a question mark. The remaining pieces are ephemera; short and light, but
necessary filler in a complete piano music volume on one disc. Giorgio Koukl, a seasoned pianist and champion of Martinu's piano works, is the perfect choice for
a Kapralova recital. He has the intuitive sensitivity, attention to color, interpretative wisdom, and dynamic control for this particular stripe of early
20th-century piano music.
From a review by “Hexameron” for amazon.com
Vitezslava KAPRALOVA (1915–1940). Complete Piano Music. GRAND PIANO GP708.
All in all, this is a thoroughly fascinating disc and a great introduction to a composer who definitely deserves to be better known.
From a review by Lynn René Bayley for artmusiclounge, February 4, 2017.
Vitezslava KAPRALOVA (1915–1940). Complete Piano Music. GRAND PIANO GP708.
The results in this first account of Kapralova's complete piano music are stirringly impressive; not that this composer is a completely unknown quantity. Her music has been promoted with inspiring strength by the Kapralova Society.
[…] All of the music here, which dates from the 1930s, has a lofty romantic complexity that avoids harshness or extreme dissonance. There are dissonances but they are subtle - piquant rather than bleak. Despite the complexity there
is no sense of obfuscation. Communication is what the composer clearly intended and achieves. The music - always full of character and radiating maturity - will speak without undue tribulation to anyone who enjoys the piano music of
John Ireland, Herbert Howells, William Baines or Arnold Bax. The valuable booklet note in English and French is an exemplar of highly competent design. The author is Karla Hartl of the Kapralova Society. Hartl has worked and
continues to work tirelessly for Kapralova's deserving music. Grand Piano have chosen well again with the technical and artistic aspects immaculately handled.
From a review by Rob Barnett for MusicWeb International, February 2, 2017.
KAPRALOVA, V.: Piano Music (Complete) (Koukl)
The death in 1940 at the age of twenty-five, of the Czech-born, Vitezslava Kapralova, took from the world one of its most interesting and talented emerging composers.
From a review by David Denton for David's Review Corner @ naxos.com, February 2017.