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Vitezslava Kapralova: The Completed Orchestral Works cpo 555 568-2, 2 CD • 1h 43min • 2022
Kapralovas offizielles Opus 1 – die Suite en miniature von 1935 – geht auf eine 4 Jahre ältere Klavierfassung zurück, die hier quasi als Bonus ebenfalls vorliegt. Nicht nur interessant, um sich die enorme Entwicklung der Komponistin in kürzester Zeit bewusst zu machen, sondern auch, weil diese Klavierfassung in den bisherigen Gesamtaufnahmen ihrer Klavierwerke unterschlagen wird. Zum direkten Vergleich der beiden Versionen muss man allerdings die CD wechseln. Bereits hier beweist die Janácek-Philharmonie aus Ostrava, dass sie dem doch typisch tschechischen Idiom Kapralovas besser gerecht wird als etwa die Naxos-Aufnahme aus Michigan. . . . Vom Klavierkonzert d-Moll op. 7 gibt es mittlerweile mehrere gute Aufnahmen. Neben der CD aus Michigan mit der Solistin Amy I-Lin Cheng hat Supraphon erst kürzlich eine Neueinspielung (Marek Kozak) herausgebracht, die zu Recht hochgelobt wurde. Dennoch muss diese sich von der vorliegenden Darbietung nochmals deutlich geschlagen geben: wegen des vorgenannten Enthusiasmus von Orchester und Dirigentin – der erste Satz ist übrigens nicht umsonst mit Allegro entusiastico überschrieben – vor allem aber der überaus leidenschaftlichen, glutvollen Wiedergabe des Pianisten Tomas Vrana. Er meistert nicht nur die noch an spätromantische Traditionen anknüpfende Virtuosität mit Bravour, sondern gestaltet jedes Detail emotional völlig schlüssig und ungemein klangschön, ohne übers Ziel hinauszuschießen. Man höre nur das lange Solo – mehr als eine simple Kadenz – gegen Ende des Kopfsatzes, das dem Zuhörer fast den Atem verschlägt oder die jazz-inspirierte Begeisterung im Finale. Alleine dieses Stück rechtfertigt den Erwerb der Produktion. . . . Besondere Erwähnung verdient das Orchesterlied Sbohem a satecek, das es mühelos mit den besten Gattungsbeiträgen Richard Strauss‘ aufnehmen kann: Veronika Rovna singt es vorzüglich, jedoch etwas zu brav. Auch aufnahmetechnisch auf hohem Level, wobei der stellenweise großzügige Hall Geschmackssache ist, erspielt sich das Doppelalbum eine ausdrückliche Empfehlung.
From a review by Martin Blaumeiser for Klassik Heute, 10 June 2024.

Vitzslava Kapralova - The Completed Orchestral Works; Suite en miniature + Military Sinfonietta + Suita rustica + Waving Farewell + Pre´lude de Noe¨l + Fanfare (1939) + Partita + Klavierkonzert in d-Moll + Suita; Veronika Rovna, Sopran, Tomas Vrana, Klavier, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Alena Hron; # cpo 555 568–2; Aufnahme 05 + 06.2022, Veröffentlichung 03.05.2024 (103'17)
Das Programm dieses Albums ist recht gemischt und zeigt in der Tat sowohl die slawische Leidenschaft als auch die von mährischer Volksmusik beeinflusste Melodik. Am nachhaltigsten werden dabei die Partita per pianoforte ed orchestra d’archi op. 20 und das Klavierkonzert op. 7, die von Tomas Vrana sehr gut gespielt werden. Er hat im Janacek Philharmonic Ostrava unter Alena Hron aufmerksam ihn begleitende Mitstreiter. Das Orchester zeigt auch in den übrigen Stücken ein solides Niveau und musiziert inspiriert unter der Leitung der tschechischen Dirigentin, die die Musik immer sehr stimmungsvoll und farbig werden lässt.
From a review by Remy Franck for Pizzicato, May 6, 2024.

Forgotten Czech Piano Concertos Kovarovic/Kapralova/Borkovec Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Marek Kozak (piano), Robert Jindra (conductor) Supraphon SU 4337-2, released 8 March 2024.
Supraphon has released this excellent CD featuring three piano concertos by Czech composers that are rarely heard. They don’t often appear on the contemporary concert scene. In my opinion, this is a mystery since all three are of the highest quality and well worth listening to. [...] [Kapralova’s] piano concerto is remarkable to have been composed by a 20-year-old. It has a distinctive style and employs a large orchestra and there is a sense of a real mastery of the interplay between the piano soloist and the brass and woodwind sections. [...] I strongly recommend this CD as more than a curiosity but a very rewarding listening experience.
From a review by Alan Rosenfelder for the Dvorak Society Newsletter, No. 146 (May 2024): 13–14.

Vitezslava Kapralova: The Completed Orchestral Works. 2-CD 555 568-2 CPO (2024). Recorded May-June 2022 in Ostrava. TT 103:17. Tomas Vrana, Veronika Rovna, Janacek Philharmonic Ostrava, Alena Hron. CD1: Suite en miniature, Military Sinfonietta, Suita rustica, Waving Farewell, Prélude de Noël, Fanfare. CD2: Partita, Piano Concerto, Suita.
The double album of Kapralova’s orchestral works (plus a piano suite as a bonus track) maps a barely decade-long musical career that was tragically cut short at the dawn of WWII. The CPO editors made an executive decision to include only those orchestral compositions by Kapralova that were completed and orchestrated by the composer herself. CD1 concludes with the premiere recording of Fanfare, an uplifting, half-minute-long miniature for brass instruments and timpani, composed by Kaprálová in 1939 for her father’s 50th birthday. The final track of CD2 is a piano suite which may be of a particular interest to musicologists, since it served as a blueprint for the orchestral Suite en miniature presented on CD1. Performances by the Janacek Philharmonic under the baton of the up-and-coming conductor Alena Hron are consistently solid throughout this 103-minute orchestral program, even offering a few new insights into the presented works. The neo-Baroque Partita for strings and piano, the orchestral miniature Prélude de Noël, and the orchestral song Waving Farewell are the cases in point. The soloist in Kapralova’s outstanding art song has a pristine voice, clear articulation, and good diction. She and the orchestra in a supportive role succeed in building up the momentum that this quasi-operatic song requires, placing their rendition among the best to date. The double album also includes the composer’s two orchestral suites, Suite en miniature and Suita rustica; the latter pays tribute to Stravinsky’s early ballets and has become immensely popular with audiences in recent years. The best known composition by Kapralova, the lushly orchestrated Military Sinfonietta, also receives a fine reading from the Philharmonic Ostrava, if not quite the energy of the University of Michigan Symphony conducted by Kenneth Kiesler whose recording was released by Naxos in 2021. The final classic presented on the album, Piano Concerto in D Minor, is a truly exciting work, somewhat evocative of Rachmaninov’s writing. At first listening I was a bit put off by the slow tempi chosen for the first movement, but this ceased to be an issue with repeated hearings. [...] [T]here’s no doubt that the cpo double album is well positioned to take its place among the most important releases of Kaprálová’s music to date — certainly a desirable recording to have in one’s collection, and a must for lovers of the composer's music.
From a review by Karla Hartl for the Kapralova Society Journal 22, no. 2 (Summer 2024).

20th century Czech treasures unearthed
Three superb virtuosic 20th-century concertos. The Kovarovic and the Kapralova are unashamedly post-romantic with sweeping melodies while combining great virtuosity. Kapralova died tragically young (aged only 25) and thus the music world was deprived of a hugely significant talent. Her works - about 50 in number - are all impressive, not least this concerto composed when she was just 20 years old. The Borkovec is more "modern" in its idiom with a percussive approach to the piano. Nonetheless, it is melodic, rhythmic and thoroughly enjoyable. The playing of the young Czech pianist is brilliant and thoroughly committed. The Supraphon recording is first class and the disc can be recommended without hesitation.
Reviewed on March 27, 2024, by "Jacobite" for amazon.com.

Review: “Forgotten Czech Piano Concertos” – Marek Kozak
This album, titled “Forgotten Czech Piano Concertos,” features works by Karel Kovarovic (1862-1920), Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940), and Pavel Borkovec (1894-1972). These pieces, brought to life by pianist Marek Kozak and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Jindra, offer a glimpse into a world of musical brilliance that has remained largely unexplored. . . . Kapralova’s Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 7, is a forward-looking piece . . . [and] a brilliant showcase of Kapralova’s talent, with its vibrant instrumentation and captivating solo part. . . . The concerto’s modernity and freshness make it stand out in the album, offering a tantalizing taste of a composer whose potential was never fully realized.
From a review by Tal Agam on March 22, 2024, for the Classic Review.

Things Lived and Dreamt. Francine Kay, piano. Analekta (2023).
On this record, Kay explores a facet of Czech piano music that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it should, such as the album's title track, taken from Josef Suk's gorgeous set of 10 pieces called Životem a snem (Things Lived and Dreamt). Kay also shines the light on Vitezslava Kapralova, the early 20th-century composer who died at 25, just as she was bursting onto the scene. As too often happens, her compelling musical voice faded into obscurity. But the flame has been kept alive by Toronto's Kapralova Society, and it's gratifying to hear Kapralova's music being revived by an accomplished virtuoso performer like Kay, perhaps one of Canada's most undersung classical musicians.
From a review by Paolo Pietropaolo, December 20, 2023 on CBC Radio 2.

Ohlednuti za 52. rocnikem festivalu Moravsky podzim: Zaverecny koncert
Druhou polovinu otevrela Suita rustica Vitezslavy Kapralove. Tato kompozice byla nahlych zmen tempa, ktere orchestr, opet s pomoci velmi vyraznych gest dirigenta, skvele zvladl a prokazal naprostou souhranost. I zde vynikl krasny ton – predevsim smyccu. Dynamika orchestru byla, oprolti prvni pulce, na mnohem lepsi urovni. [...] Dramaturgie 52. rocniku mezinarodniho festivalu Moravsky podzim dokazuje, ze i nadale si drzi sve hlavni pilire, na kterych byla kdysi zalozena. Zaroven vsak dava prostor novym hudebne-dramaturgickym tendencim, jez muzeme sledovat i na zahranicnich festivalech, a tedy se snazi jit s dobou.
Petr Meckovsky for Opus musicum 5/2023, 76, 94–97.

Zivotem a snem. The Things Lived and Dreamt. Francine Kay, klavir. Analekta AN 2 9004. Rok vydani 2023. Celkova stopaz 73:57.
V Dubnovych preludiich … slysime tvurkyni, jez se suverenne zmocnila modernich prostredku impresionismu I avantgardy v harmonii, motorickych i nepravidelnych rytmech a zhustene strukture. Na plose ctyr v prumeru jen dve a pul minulty dlouhych skladbiek koncentrovala bohaty, expresivni a presvedcive zvladnuty obsah. Francine Kay dilo interpretuje s velkym porozumenim pro vsechny ty rozmanite a kontrastni odstiny vyrazu, ktere jsou na na tak male plochy hutne soustredeny, aniz by se ji celek jakkoli tristil. Diky tomu muzeme nalezite ocenit velmi pestrou harmonickou paletu dila, bohate rytmicke promeny (zvlaste v prvnim kusu), expresivni dynamicke rozpeti od lyrickeho sepotu po vyostrene vrcholy, gradace kumulujici maximum dramatickeho napeti, lyricky dvojhlas ve tretim kusu, jehoz linie interpretka vyrazne zpevne vyklenula, i tvrdosijnou energii a asentimentalni epxresivitu zaverecneho Viva. . . . Album Things Lived and Dreamt prineslo svetove fonotece vysoce kvalitni a inspirativni predstaveni vice i mene znamych, v kazdem pripade vsak spickovych klavirnich del od autoru nalezicih mezi nejpozoruhodnejsi ceske skladatel.
Jan Charypar for Opus musicum 5/2023, 99–101.

La Vita. Leonie Karatas plays Vítezslava Kapralova. CD recording. EuroArts (2022). Time: 70’
The piano works of Vítezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) offer an ideal introduction into the Czech composer’s musical world. Bold, confident, unpredictable—yet also polished and remarkably mature— Kapralova’s piano pieces are alive with beautiful melodies, timbres and textures, and conceived with great skill and confidence. They include some of Kapralova’s most significant and representative compositions: the Sonata Appassionata, written in 1933 during her student years at the Brno Conservatory, the well-known April Preludes (1937), which by now have been recorded dozens of times, and a set of Variations sur le Carillon (1938), a work that crystallizes Kapralova’s piano-writing style.
Taken as a whole, Kapralova’s piano works fit comfortably onto one CD, and in her debut recording, pianist Leonie Karatas has chosen to record them under the apropos title of “La Vita.” Kapralova’s nickname was ‘Vita’ (her first name appears as such in some of her published works) and of course the word itself translates as ‘life.’ Thus in that title we are also reminded of the brevity of Kapralova’s own existence.
The programming order is not chronologically arranged, and instead opens unusually with the three pieces of Opus 9. This lesser-known trio of works was composed under the guidance of Vítezslav Novák at the Prague Conservatory, where Kapralova had moved from Brno in 1935 at age 20 in order to continue her studies. Each of the three pieces is a free-standing musical work, resulting from different compositional assignments.
The opening “Prelude” is a chiefly post-impressionist work, frequently drifting in the direction of a more modern, dissonant style reminiscent of Prokofiev. The somber opening melody provides a basis for recurring variations, complemented not only by a lyrical secondary theme, but also little cadenza-like digressions of differing character. Karatas handles these disparate elements beautifully in a rich performance that immediately engages the listener with her luminous, elegant tone and impeccably-judged voicing. Her flawless interpretation of this small but wonderful score establishes a high musical standard at the outset of Karatas’ program.
In contrast with the prelude, the “Crab Canon” that follows has an atypical austerity, with the melodic lines performed simultaneously backwards and forwards (as one can observe in the score, but hardly detect during listening). Karatas makes the most of this brief, stark and dissonant work, her playing remaining steady and unperturbed even as the music becomes increasingly chaotic. It’s the only convincing performance of this work that I’ve encountered.
The final piece in Op. 9, “Scherzo Passacaglia,” was actually the first to be composed. Like the crab canon, the work is a modernist take on a Baroque compositional technique, and actually exists in several different versions. Karatas is perfect here in bringing to life the grotesque musical elements, which surprised even Novak, of this virtuosic work (another version of the piece has the title Grotesque Passacaglia). It’s a piece that codifies this recurring and significant aspect of Kapralova’s musical personality. Karatas delivers a knockout performance of this inspired work, with all of the details perfectly judged. Next on the program are the four April Preludes, Kapralova’s best known work for solo piano and an excellent representative of her mature style. They were written for Czech pianist Rudolf Firkušný, and partially inspired by his interpretation of Martinu’s Second Piano Concerto. Of the many recordings of this work, Karatas’ is among the best. Although there are some issues with the published score, which contains several notational errors, Karatas navigates these well. Yet her performance contains odd departures from the score, for example in the rhythms at the end of both the first and second preludes, which are altered, possibly for dramatic effect. In the second prelude, the specified Andante tempo comes across more as an Adagio in Karatas’ unusually slow rendition, stretching the music at times uncomfortably and requiring patience to engage with the musical line. Fortunately, the tempi in the remaining preludes seem perfectly judged. The polka-like finale inspires a particularly strong reading from Karatas—a definitive performance that brings out the full character of the music, and concludes Kapralova’s most popular piano work on a note of perfection.
After a charming rendition of the brief Little Song, Karatas proves equally persuasive in Kapralova’s early but remarkably effective Five Piano Compositions. All are played exquisitely, but the fourth movement Tempo di menuetto stands out as especially superb. It’s a memorable little gem and Karatas gives a flawless and moving performance. Here, as elsewhere on the program, one senses a true bond between the composer and the artist, as Karatas comes fully prepared and engaged with the music she is playing, bringing to life Kapralova’s musical personality, even in her earliest compositional efforts. The musical depth of the final funeral march movement, for example, is astonishing, and Karatas’ slow tempo here contributes to the dark mood of this emotionally mature, sorrowful work.
After the five piano compositions, the program fast-forwards to two of Kapralova’s final piano works, the Dance from 1940, completed and first recorded by pianist Giorgio Koukl, and the 1938 set of Variations sur le carillon de l’église St.-Etienne-du-Mont. Koukl performed a wonderful service by completing and recording the unfinished Dance, but it is also valuable to have Karatas’ excellent rendition of this polka-like piece, which will only encourage other artists to take up this unknown score. The Dance’s folk stylization shows an unmistakable kinship with Martinu who composed works of similar character (see his 3 Czech Dances for solo piano from 1927, for example). It turns out that Karatas’ performance of this delightful work is more smiling and nuanced compared with Koukl’s, offering a greater variety of articulations and tone colors, along with a much better sound quality.
The 1938 set of variations that follows isn’t as well-known as the April Preludes, but certainly deserves to be. This is a comparatively more difficult piece to interpret, and the short length and small number of variations results in a work that is highly concentrated, yet constantly changing and musically diverse. The theme itself must be among the shortest in the history of musical variations—only eight notes long, it is based on a church carillon tune that Kapralova could apparently hear chiming from her flat in Paris. Martinu considered the work a masterpiece and wrote an affectionate “review” of the piece in a letter to Kapralova. This score is more elusive than other piano works by Kapralova, as one discovers when studying the music or listening to the available recordings. From the most basic level of tempo choice to minute details of voicing and pedaling, interpreters have sought strikingly different solutions. Karatas delivers a strong performance that stands out among the alternatives for the same reasons as do the rest of her recordings on this disc: beauty of tone, imaginative voicing, and fully realized musical characterizations. I did find myself not fully convinced by the tempo choices early on, with the second and third variations seeming a bit rushed, and wished for more generous pedaling in the first variation with its resonant, bell-like sounds and strikingly coloristic dissonance. Nonetheless, this is undoubtedly a praiseworthy interpretation. Variation 4 (Quasi etude, vivo) is played with a breathtaking precision, and the fifth variation Choral is perfectly realized. The final variation has echoes of the last April Prelude, in that both are grotesquely stylized polkas with similar rhythmic motifs. Here Karatas projects the music with an appropriate exuberance and flair. In the climactic coda that follows, the carillon theme is heard in thunderous fff octaves, with Martinu musing in his letter to Kapralova that is sounds as if the piano is being sacrificed. As it turns out, the recording engineers couldn’t quite handle the decibel levels during this passage, which unfortunately sounds congested.
Karatas saves her performance of the Sonata Appassionata for the end of the program, which proves to be another wise choice. This two-movement work is Kapralova’s only large canvas for piano solo, and it is an extraordinarily effective one, despite being an early work written during her student years at the Brno Conservatory. The Sonata is a summary of the romantic and impressionistic styles that Kapralova was exposed to and assimilated, coupled with a more forward-looking modernism that would become increasingly prominent in future compositions.
Karatas plays this ambitious work of youthful genius with a great sense of authority and commitment, bringing out all the winning aspects of this score and delivering a thrilling musical experience. The dramatic first movement is delivered with perfection and makes me long to hear Karatas interpreting Rachmaninoff and Chopin. A great performance such as this reveals the music in the best possible light and reveals the extent of Kapralova’s compositional mastery even at this early stage of her career.
The second movement is a set of variations, based on one of Kapralova’s most beguiling themes, and it is instructive to compare Kapralova’s stylistic approach to writing variations in this piece with that of the Carillon variations written five years later. Both works contain six variations, but those in the Sonata are longer in length and more romantically conceived. The final variation, beginning as a fugato and unfolding developmentally, is the longest of all, taking up as much time as the earlier variations combined. In this final variation the music suddenly turns more modernistic, adopting a grotesque character that foreshadows what we hear in subsequent works.
Karatas takes the opening theme at a leisurely tempo, allowing the music to unfold gradually and for details to emerge that illuminate the beauty and intricacy of Kapralova’s piano writing. As the difficulties increase, Karatas handles the diverse musical demands of this sprawling movement with ease. This is a triumphant performance of an ambitious, impactful work that should be heard in recitals more often.
The program ends with a beautiful little coda—the two ‘bouquets’ from 1935. These intimate miniatures are played superbly, and conclude Karatas’ recital in a mode of reflection.
The success of this recording hinges on the fact that Karatas is obviously fully immersed in Kapralova’s music, and possesses the artistry, imagination and vision to truly bring it to life. We hear an accomplished performer bringing new insights into the interpretation of Kapralova’s piano music, and in this way Karatas performs a great service to Kapralova’s legacy. The beauty of these scores is that every thoughtful performance brings new revelations, and new ways of advocating for Kapralova’s music. As Karatas concludes in her liner notes, “What her music brings about in the listener is nothing less than astonishment and speechlessness at the thunderbolt her music strikes in you.” One could say the same about the performances on this exceptional disc.
A review by Erik Entwistle for Czech Music Quarterly 3/2023.

Milan Pala zazaril v dvojroli houslisty a violisty na zaver Moravskeho podzimu.
Po peestavce prednesl orchestr Suitu rusticu pro orchestr, op. 19, brnenské skladatelky Vitezslavy Kapralove. Slozila ji v roce 1938 na zaklade zadani vydavatelstvi Universal Edition a skladba mela byt na motivy ceskych pisni. Ve trech vetach pouzila jak melodiku, tak rytmiku lidovych pisni mistrne. V prvni vete Allegro rustico je invencne zpracovana pisen Preletel slavicek cez Javornicek a Ciaze je to rolicka nezorana, ve druhe vete Lento – Vivo – Lento je to Mela jsem holubka a Furiant a ve treti vete Allegro ma non troppo znelo Esce me nemas a Vysoko zornicka. Svezi a napadite zpracovani bylo podano pohodove a radostne, zakoncene svezim fugatem.
From a review by Karla Hofmannova for Klasika Plus, October 21, 2023.

Things Lived and Dreamt. Francine Kay, piano. Analekta, January 2023.
This album captures the rhythmic and melodic characteristics unique to Czech music while also showcasing the identities and breadth of multiple composers. Kay offers an exceptional performance of stunning compositions that is well worth listening to.
From a review by Kristen Whittle for La Scena Musicale, September 1, 2023.

Things Lived and Dreamt (Analekta). Music of Czech composers performed by Francine Kay, piano.
[T]his is a collection of piano pieces by Czech composers, four of them male - Janacek, Suk, Dvorak, Smetana, and one female - Kapralova. . . . Thank you, Francine, for including the amazing female Czech composer, Vitezslava Kapralova’s Dubnova Preludia (April Preludes). These 4 short pieces are outstanding illustrations of the talent of this composer who died of typhoid fever at the age of only 25. In Francine’s hands, Kapralova’s music ranges from charming to troubled, lyrical to foreboding and fun.
From a review by Joanne Bender, The Music Times 17, No. 5 (September-October 2023): 13.

La Vita. Leonie Karatas plays Vitezslava Kapralova. EuroArts (2022).
Karatas displays a level of artistry and balance and a perceptive “feel” for Kapralova’s style that is not always present in Koukl’s recording. While at times her slower tempi and degree of rubato veer toward the excessive, her tempo for the first movement of the Sonata appassionata is quicker overall and the level of rubato and dynamic variations decidedly “passionate.” Karatas’s use of the sostenuto pedal is generous, yet her tasteful choices enhance impressionist traits and veiled moods at just the right moments. She makes a clear distinction between the left and right hand when bringing out the melody. Her playing is nuanced and she effectively realizes Kapralova’s distinctive patterns. I recommend this CD.
From a review by Judith Mabary for IAWM Journal 29, no. 2–3 (2023): 21–22.

Francine Kay. Things Lived and Dreamt. Analekta (2023).
This is Kay’s 4th recording on the Analekta label, and her esteemed body of work has gained her a JUNO Nomination and worldwide appreciation. A colorful, rich and exciting body of work, Things Lived And Dreamt is a real treat for fans of the piano.
From a review for Take Effect Reviews.

Zenska pisnova intimita. Musica non grata: Zeny v hudbe – Vojtech Cervenka, Tamara Morozova, Viktorie Kaplanova Dugranpere, Monika Jagerova, 21. cervna 2023.
Soucasti projektu Musica non grata je i cyklus Zeny v hudbe venovany skladatelkam, ktere se snazily proniknout v jejich dobe do temer vylucne muzskeho oboru a jejichz dilo stale zustava u nas malo zname ci prakticky nezname. Po letosnim dubnovem zahajovacim koncertu ve Statni opere cyklus pokracoval 21. cervna v Goethe institutu komornim koncertem Esquisses (Crty) – ve spolupraci s Lieder Society a The Kapralova Society.
Ceske skladatelky reprezentovala Vitezslava Kapralova (1915–1940) dily z doby jejich studii na brnenske konzervatori a mistrovske tride Vitezslava Novaka na konzervatori prazske: Dvema pisnemi op. 4 na texty R. Bojka v interpretaci Viktorie Kaplanove Dugranpere, cyklem Jablko s klina op. 10 na slova Jaroslava Seiferta, jehoz se ujala Tamara Morozova, a pisni Leden, v niz se uplatnil NeoKlasik orchestr.
V malem sale Goethova institutu se nas sesla padesatka posluchacu. Mlade solistky presvedcily nejen o svem peveckem talentu, ale hlavne z nich az nakazlive vyzarovalo nadseni pro tak specificky zanr, jakym je pisnova tvorba. Pisne pusobily jako intimni denikove zapisky zivotnich krizi, ktere pevkyne dokazaly empaticky interpretovat tak, ze bylo zrejme, ze tyto zablesky pameti v textech intenzivne znovuprozivaji a nalehavost tech pocitu dokazaly predat posluchacum. Pro vetsinu publika byly prezentovane pisne jiste prekvapujici – jednak vetsinou dokladaly hudebni kvality svych autorek, jednak naznacily, jake poklady pisnova tvorba ukryva.
From a review by Helena Havlikova for Opera Plus, July 4, 2023.

Festival komorni hudby v Kutne Hore vrcholil jedinecnymi vykony i posluchacskymi zazitky
Streda 7. cervna se v ramci festivaloveho deni souhrou okolnosti stala jeho skutecnym stredem a navic jednou z festivalovych dominant v podobe koncertu z del komponujicich zen priznacne nazvaneho „Les Femmes Fatales“. Interier Kostela sv. Jana Nepomuckeho se rozeznel skladbami zen, ktere se – kazda ve sve dobe – dokazaly prosadit v oblasti dosud opanovane muzi. Zivotni i umelecky pribeh predcasne zesnule dirigentky a komponistky Vitezslavy Kapralove (1915–1940) je myslim znamy, jednak skolenim u Bohuslava Martinu, jednak svedectvim spisovatele Jiriho Muchy. Jeji trivete Trio pro hoboj, klarinet a fagot je stylove mnohem progresivnejsi nez predchozi skladba. Temperamentnim, misty polyfonnim, ale predevsim technicky virtuóznim propletenim jednotlivych partu dosahuje ponekud exotizujiciho, soucasne i humorneho nadechu v bystre se odvijejicim deni. Kazdy nastroj ma zaroven svou individualni roli. Pojivem je klarinet (opet Michel Raison), fagot (Jan Hudecek) je spise naladotvorny, ovsem dominantni postaveni ustrojne vklinene do celkove struktury prislusi hoboji, jak presvedcive ukazal Vilem Veverka vykonem i koordinaci souhry. Skladba byla komponovana v letech 1937 a 1938, ale zustala rozpracovana, o jeji dokonceni se postaral az soucasny mezinarodne pusobici hobojista a skladatel Stephane Egeling.
From a review by Julius Hulek for KlasikaPlus, June 14, 2023.

Zeny v hudbe prinesly do Statni opery vyborny program.
V nedeli 16. dubna byla ve Statni opere v Praze k mani vskutku nevsedni muzika. Zahajovaci koncert cyklu Zeny v hudbe divakum prinesl skladby ctyr skladatelek, ceskych i zahranicnich, v podani interpretek rovnez ceskych i zahranicnich, vystupujicich spolu s Orchestrem Statni opery. To vse se odehralo v ramci projektu Musica non grata. Taktovky se chopila Viktorija Zadko, prvni ukrajinska profesionalni dirigentka. Vystudovala v Kyjeve a je drzitelkou rady mezinarodnich oceneni. Pod jejim jistym vedenim pocal Orchestr Statni opery hrat prvni skladbu vecera; Suite en miniature op. 1 Vitezslavy Kapralove. Smycce a to zejmena violoncella se svou ponticellovou postaraly o velmi tajuplny uvod skladby. Anticipovaly tak jiste tajemne prostoupeni skladbou nesouci se v tremolech, jez se plynne promilala s tónem melancholickym. Po Preludiu (jak se prvni cast nazyvala) nasledovalo Pastorale. Zde zas neochvejne schopnosti v predavani stezejnich myslenek ukazaly divakum dechy. V naznacich ruznych vrstev hudby a vzniknuvsich disonancich davaly vyniknout stale tudy prochazejicimu tónu pastoralnimu, jak se i slusi vzhledem k nazvu vety, pricemz neodmyslitelna nalada lehce nostalgicka se v tomto spojeni razem nesla v odlisnejsim duchu, nez jsme u pastoralnich kompozic jinak zvykli. Treti veta, Ukolebavka, pak jaksi spojovala prvky pouzite v castech predeslych, coz dalo vzniknout zasnenemu celku, ktery potom sladce vyprchal do ztracena. Posledni veta, Menuetto, se naladou odkazalo opet k charakteru pastoralnimu. Charakter hudby byl, jak nazev napovida, tanecni, ovsem take prostoupen eleganci, o ktery se staral nosne tahly tón, ve kterem si smycce a dechy predavali fraze. Velmi elegantne vyznelo zakonceni skladby. … Vecer byl pak ucelene uzavren Vitezslavou Kapralovou. Jeji Suita rustica op. 19 prinesla ve svych trech castech smes charakteru vojenskych, deformovane ceske dechovky a opet jiste nalady. Ve trech vetach prolinani techto prvku postupne vyvrcholilo v kontrapunktickou cast, na konci nasledovanou vskutku vitezoslavnym zakoncenim. Na posledni skladbu vecera, kterou byla, jak jinak, Sbohem a satecek op. 14 (take od Kapralove) se opet pripojila zpevacka. V procitenem a melancholickem tónu predvedla skutecne velmi dobrou praci s barvou a dynamikou, jak v koordinaci s orchestrem, tak samostatne vycnivajici nad nej. V barevnem podkresleni v orchestru vynikalo zejmena spojeni dechu a klaviru. Jemna hra hudebniku s tajemnem pak na zaver prinesla zasnene vytraceni veskereho zvuku.
From a review by Maxmilian Pilmaier for KlasikaPlus, April 17, 2023.

Things Lived and Dreamt. Francine Kay. Analekta AN 2 9004 (analekta.com/en)
Kapralova’s April Preludes is a highlight of this recording, a stunning suite of pieces by a quite unknown composer. Kapralova studied in Prague and Paris, passing away at the age of 25 while fleeing the Nazi occupation. Despite her young age, the April Preludes are strikingly mature and complete, demonstrating a mastery of late-Romantic technique that stretches the limits of tonality through dissonance and bitonality. A testament to the greatness of Czech music, Kay’s recording is fertile ground for those who are interested in the Czech symphonic tradition – from Dvorak’s Humoresques to Kapralova’s April Preludes, this disc goes from strength to strength.
From a review by Matthew Whitfield for The WholeNote 28, no. 5 (April-May 2023): 64–65.

Things Lived and Dreamt - Francince Kay, piano - Analekta.
The four Preludes d’avril (1937) collectively reveal a composer with her own ideas of modern harmony as affected by impressionist tendencies, as in Roussel and Martinu. Dissonant and bitonal effects blend with energetic, asymmetrical rhythmic units. The first, Allegro ma non troppo, enjoys a fluid, plastic motion, angular and jarring in its melodic flux. The second prelude, Andante, proves mysterious in the manner of a nocturne whose temper becomes ardent, even militantly passionate, at moments. The third prelude, Andante semplice, finds a sense of respite in a parlando line that becomes gently interrupted by a delicate utterance whose last page allows a more dire bass line. The final prelude, Vivo, is a lively, agogically active etude with knots for the performer’s digital acumen. Kay carries this little dynamo off in fine fettle.
From a review by Gary Lemco for Audiophile Audition, 18 March 2023.

PICCOLO LEGENDS. Haika Lubcke. Prospero PROSP0053 (2023)
Keine Chance dürfte auch der geneigte Hörer dieser CD haben, deren bezwingendem musikalischem Charme er erliegen dürfte. Haika Lübcke hat hier nicht nur ein außerordentlich spannendes Programm zusammengetragen, das ausschließlich aus Stücken des 20. bzw. 21. Jahrhunderts besteht. Aber keine Sorge, diese CD ist nicht speziell für Avantgarde-Afficionados, sondern eher für Freunde der klassischen und gemäßigten Moderne. Und natürlich für solche des gepflegten Piccolo-Spiels. Denn das zelebriert Haika Lübcke hier in Vollendung. Unterstützt wird sie dabei von ihrer Piccolo-Kollegin Pamela Stahl, dem Pianisten Hendrik Heilmann sowie der Harfenistin Sarah Verrue. Punkten kann die Einspielung ferner mit drei veritablen Ersteinspielungen von Werken Daniel Schnyders, Vítezslava Kaprálovás und Gabriel Malancioious. Aber auch, wer Literatur für Piccolo nicht unbedingt zu seinen Favoriten zählt, dürfte diese CD in höchstem Maße goutieren. Das Repertoire ist ungeheuer interessant, das musikantische und hochvirtuose Spiel aller Musiker in jeder Hinsicht fesselnd. Klare Empfehlung!
Review by Guido Krawinkel for Klassik Heute, 12 March 2023.

Things Lived and Dreamt.Francine Kay, piano. Analekta, 2023
The new CD by Francine Kay, professor of piano at Princeton University, features music by composers from the Czech Republic. Other than well-known names such as Dvorak, Smetana and Janacek, there are decidedly less-known ones, such as Josef Suk and Vitezslava Kapralova. ... As the title indicates, life and dreams intertwine in this recording. Kay shows lyricism and drama, but also intimate narrative and self-reflection, which is absolutely appropriate to the chosen repertoire. The CD moves between melancholy and yearning, but the main characteristic of this recording is its narrative quality. Suk’s first piece is Longing, a song of love that Kay makes really poignant. The most conspicuous part of the CD resides in Things lived and dreamt, by the same composer. ... The music of the Czech composer has an undoubted esthetic value, and the same should be said about Viteslava Kapralova’s April Preludes, Op. 13. ... Excellent choice of repertoire, enhanced by a moving touch.
From a review by Pietro Freiburger for La Scena Musicale online, February 18, 2023.

Povidky male fletny. Mezi Pikolovymi legendami Haiky Lübcke jsou Kapralova, Martinu i Novak.
Pozoruhodna nova nahravka nemecké fletnistky Haiky Lübcke s atmosférou pohadek, povidek a mytu vysla 3. unora na labelu Prospero Classical a jmenuje se Piccolo Legends. Albu logicky dominuje solova pikola a kupodivu take cesky repertoar. Mozna nejpodivuhodnejsimi kousky na albu jsou dve kraticke Povidky male fletny, ktere roku 1940 zkomponovala Vitezslava Kapralova pro sveho budouciho manzela, spisovatele Jiriho Muchu, jenz se tehdy ucil amatersky hrat na zobcovou fletnu. Vedle skladbicek Kapralova stoji hudba jejiho ucitele a milence Bohuslava Martinu, skladby Scherzo pro fletnu a klavir a Divertimento pro dve zobcove fletny. Ceska hudba 20. stoleti je zastoupena jeste take suitou Marsyas pro pikolu a klavir od skladatele Jana Novaka.
From a review by Ondrej Fischer for Classic Praha, February 13, 2023.

Francine Kay: Things Lived and Dreamt.
Kay’s perceptive performances of Vitezslava Kapralova’s four April Preludes complement those included on Giorgio Koukl’s survey of this tragically short-lived composer’s complete piano music (Grand Piano). For example, the third piece, marked Andante semplice, is more yielding and vulnerable in Kay’s hands alongside Koukl’s faster fluidity. In the Vivo No 4, Koukl gives emphatic weight to the bass lines, whereas Kay’s lighter, crisper pianism is more treble-orientated.
From a review by Jed Distler for Gramophone online, January 31, 2023.

Francine Kay: Things Lived and Dreamt. Analekta.
Canadian pianist Francine Kay presents a collection of Czech piano music from the late 1800’s to the first half of the 20th century. This much anticipated recording marks Francine Kay’s return to disc after having recorded three discs for the Analekta label, which received international acclaim. This recording also shines a light on Vitezslava Kapralova, whose youthful composition, April Preludes op.13, reveals the brilliance and vitality of a composer whose life was cut tragically short at the age of twenty-five.
From a review by Crossover Media, 2023.

Things Lived and Dreamt.
Vitezslava Kapralova’s works would surely have had wider recognition than they have, were it not for the young woman’s untimely death at the age of 25, while fleeing the Nazi occupation of her homeland. Her demise brought her composing career to a tragic end, although the impassioned extant works of hers represented in THINGS LIVED AND DREAMED reveal in their boldly free-wheeling use of dissonance and multi-tonality a defyingly modern sensibility mentored under the guidance of Bohuslav Martinu.
From a review by Rafael de Acha for AllAboutArtsComs, January 2023.

Czech Mates: Canadian pianist Francine Kay uncovers marvelous music of Czech composers
“Things Lived and Dreamt” demonstrates an excellent cross section of what Czech piano music has to offer; from the folksy music of Smetana and Dvorak, to the impressionistic, and more modern influenced music of Suk and Kapralova. This is a beautiful recording that is well worth listening to!
From a review by Chris Wolf for Winnipeg Classic 107, January 23, 2023.

La Vita. Leonie Karatas. EuroArts (2022).
Vítezslava Kapralova’s piano music is, despite her tragically early death putting a stop to its continual development, a body of finished work, which can seem complete in itself and which, about eighty years later, is still refusing to sound dated or parochial. Leonie Karatas has interpreted these works subjectively, immersing herself in Kapralova’s writings and the personality of her music to indulge the intentions thus revealed, playing up the wit or emotions of each piece. Karatas also has a wonderful ear for rhythm; thus the passacaglia, one of the Three Piano Pieces, op. 9 (three very diverse pieces which feel linked in this recital) is no longer disjointed by its rubatos and pauses, but flows around them in a dance, not unlike one of Samuel Barber’s Souvenirs. In the April Preludes, op. 13—a unique and original work even by the standard of a unique and original composer—the “pop” melody of the 3rd movement flows like a well-produced track even as its tonality darkens and revives; the difficulty of even these most complex pieces is made light of by the player in a way that banishes it for the listener. As Karatas says in her insightful and compelling liner notes, if Kapralova had a fault it was that she put everything in where an older (or colder) composer might have pruned. This tendency not only gives her piano work extraordinary vitality but, as brought out in this recording of the April Preludes, even suggests the fine, busy scoring of a work for orchestra like Suita Rustica. The variations which Kapralova wrote on the chimes of St-Etienne-du-Mont, the church near her apartment in Paris, are presented as a set of fireworks. The lovely suite of Kapralova’s five earliest pieces for piano includes a funeral march that I have tended to skip past on other recordings; Karatas manages to play it in a way that refreshes its repeated melodic idea, and that makes the paused transition to the contrasting middle section believable. Her playing style brings out the considerable yet subtly-worked jazz influence in Kaprálová’s work—compare the central movements of the Five Piano Pieces with the final composition of modern jazz pioneer Bix Beiderbecke, In The Dark, also composed in 1931: the idiom is almost identical, both compositions remove the popular dance rhythm (foxtrot, as the 78 rpm record labels state) from jazz, while preserving its harmonies, and combine those with the influence of Stravinsky and Impressionism to anticipate the post-war modern jazz sound. Beside these four collections are a small number of individual compositions, including the bouncy Pisnicka, the left-hand theme which was quoted by Martinu in his 5th string quartet1 (we can also find quotations from the first of the April Preludes in Martinu’s collagelike Piano Sonata), the impressionistic short pieces Two Bouquets of Flowers, and the avant-garde Dance for piano, op. 23 which was arranged from Kapralova’s barely legible notes by Giorgio Koukl and debuted on his 2017 CD collection of Kaprálová’s piano works, again played with a breeziness that understates its difficulty and brings the “dance” to the fore. An aesthetic decision is a trade-off where one quality is preferred to another, and Karatas’s sensitive reading of the Sonata Appassionata misses the pomp of its opening statement heard in the versions by Alice Rajnohova and Giorgio Koukl, to be compensated for by a Prokofievlike playful flow not previously heard in the variations of the second movement, demonstrating the value of multiple readings of the same work. Somewhere in her Penguin “best of” collection, Dorothy Parker quotes with approval words of Edmund Wilson to the effect that genius is the capacity to instil one’s personality into a thing. Kapralova’s personality has come to life again in Leonie Karatas’s collection.
George Henderson for the Kapralova Society Journal 21, no. 1 (Winter 2023): 15.

The Women in Music Anthology, edited by Eugene Gates and Karla Hartl (Toronto: The Kapralova Society, 2021).
This anthology is also particularly valuable because feminist investigation into the systemic root causes of women’s professional contributions being undervalued has fallen out of favour in music discourse over recent decades. Thus to have feminist theory and research once again brought to the fore brings a refreshing reminder that cultural change in the art music sector is still necessary to promote equality of opportunities.
From the review by Wendy Suiter for the Kapralova Society Journal 21, no. 1 (Winter 2023): 13–14.