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Navrat do detstvi. Vitezslava Kapralova. Skladby z detstvi.
[...] Pro pedagogickou verejnost bude pravdepodobne nejpodstatnejsi, kdyz na tomto miste potvrdime, ze i dnesni deti na jednotliva dilka reaguji velmi spontanne, s chuti se jimi prokousavaji, a co je mozna nejdulezitejsi - jsou inspirovany k odvaze formulovat sve vlastni napady.
From a review by Petr Hanousek for Talent, December 2003.

Vitezslava Kapralova: Songs. Supraphon - DDD.
Ritorniamo a parlare, dopo un paio d'anni, di Vítezslava Kapralova (Praga 1915, Montpellier 1940) musicista e direttrice d'orchestra ceca, morta a soli 25 anni per la tubercolosi, una malattia che l'accompagno durante tutta la breve ma intensissima vita. L'occasione per ritornare su questo eccezionale personaggio ce la offre un recentissimo cd della Supraphon, che raccoglie, in ordine cronologico, praticamente tutti i canti da lei composti, avvalendosi spesso dei testi dei piu importanti poeti cechi del suo periodo. Prima di iniziare con la descrizione dei diversi brani, vogliamo sottolineare che avremmo preferito lasciare i titoli originali, ma trattandosi della lingua ceca non avremmo incontrato sicuramente i favori dei lettori.
Abbiamo quindi utilizzato la versione inglese, poiche una ulteriore traduzione, stavolta in italiano, ci avrebbe allontanato ancora di piu dal significato di partenza, considerando che si ha a che fare con testi poetici. Fatta questa precisazione, passiamo al brano di apertura "Two songs, op. 4", su testi di R. Bojko (pseudonimo di Alois Horak). Scritte nel 1932, in uno dei tanti momenti di solitudine ai quali era costretta dalla malattia, esse racchiudono giŕ in embrione i tratti salienti dei brani che avrebbe scritto da quel momento fino a pochi giorni prima della morte. Il successivo "Sparks from Ashes, op. 5" (1932-33), e frutto dell'incontro dell'autrice con i testi del poeta Bohdan Jelínek. A farglieli conoscere fu Ota Vach, dedicatario del brano costituito da quattro liriche, compagno di classe del Conservatorio di Brno, e definito "il suo unico amore", che alla morte dell'autrice si incarico di trasportare le sue spoglie da Montpellier a Praga. "January", per voce, pianoforte, flauto, due violini e violoncello (1933) e un brevissimo pezzo che si avvale di una struttura linguistica surrealista creata da Nezval, altro grande poeta ceco, supportata da un'orchestrazione dalle incredibili atmosfere.
Con "An apple from the Lap, op. 10" (1934-36), la Kapralova comincia ad interessarsi alle poesie di Seifert, prendendo spunto da una raccolta avente il medesimo titolo. Lo stesso Seifert, insieme a Carek, e l'ispiratore del brevissimo trittico "Forever, op. 12" (1936-37), mentre "Waving Farewell, op. 14" (1937), si basa su un testo di Nezval e fu scritta pochissimo tempo prima che la musicista si trasferisse a Parigi per studiare con Martinu. Commiato dalla nativa Praga, alla quale e dedicata, la composizione conobbe in seguito una versione per voce ed orchestra. La tradizione fa capolino in "Carol" (1937), e in "Christmas Carol" (1939), il primo si basa su un testo popolare, mentre il secondo e, in parte legato alle parole del poeta seicentesco di Michna ed in parte fa uso di un testo scritto direttamente dalla Kapralova.
Per "Seconds, op. 18" (1936-39) la compositrice utilizzo testi di numerosi artisti (ognuno con un dedicatario differente), per cui puo essere considerata una vera e propria antologia poetica. Sono invece tre i canti che formano "Sung into the Distance, op. 22" (1939) e si basano su scritti di Kripner al quale il brano e anche dedicato. Il disco ha termine con "Letter" (1940), scritta dalla Kapralova un paio di mesi prima di morire, e pochi giorni dopo il suo matrimonio con Jiri Mucha, figlio del pittore Alphonse. La cosa curiosa e che il testo non e un addio alla vita (evidentemente la musicista non si aspettava un improvviso peggioramento delle sue condizioni di salute), ma riporta una lettera di una ragazza che si lamenta con il ragazzo che l'ha rifiutata e molti hanno pensato che anche in questo brano ci sia qualcosa di autobiografico. Tirando le somme, si puo affermare che queste "Songs", rispetto al resto della produzione della Kapralova, si discostino non per la musicalitŕ, ma per gli stati d'animo che esprimono. In esse si concentrano e prendono vita tutte le sofferenze patite a causa della malattia che la perseguitava, per cui possono essere considerate alla stregua di uno struggente diario intimo.
Tutto cio viene evidenziato dalla eccezionale interpretazione del soprano Dana Buresova, che affronta i brani della Kapralova con un trasporto ed un'immedesimazione coinvolgente, abbinati ad una splendida voce. Molto bravi anche il pianista Timothy Cheek, che dimostra di avere un ottimo affiatamento con la cantante ed e inoltre autore delle note introduttive del corposo libretto di accompagnamento contenente tutti i testi, e gli altri solisti, sporadicamente impegnati, come la flautista Magda Caslavova ed i membri del Quartetto Herold, i violinisti Petr Zdvihal e Jan Valta ed il violoncellista David Havelík. In definitiva un disco di estremo interesse, fortemente voluto soprattutto dalla Kapralova Society, organismo che risulta fra i principali sponsor del cd, nato nel 1997 con l'intento di diffondere soprattutto la produzione della compositrice ceca, con un'occhiata anche al resto del repertorio classico al femminile. L'augurio finale e che questo cd possa conoscere in Italia una diffusione migliore del precedente e, a tale proposito, ai piedi della pagina, oltre all'indirizzo della Kapralova Society (e di un sito ad essa collegata dove vi sono interessanti notizie relative ad un documentario sulla vita e la produzione della musicista), vi segnaliamo anche quello del distributore italiano della Supraphon. (Per ulteriori informazioni e possibile consultare i seguenti siti: www.kapralova.org | www.kapralova.org/DOCUMENTARY_E.htm | www.harmonymusic.it)
Review by Marco del Vaglio for Sedicinoni. December 2003. Reprinted by permission.

Vitezslava KAPRALOVA (1915-1940) - Songs.
Two Songs Op. 4 (1932) [5.02], Sparks from Ashes Op. 5 (1932-33) [12.20], January for voice, piano, flute, two violins and cello (1933) [4.25], Apple from the Lap Op. 10 (1934-36) [8.53], Forever Op. 12 (1936-37) [7.43], Waving Farewell Op. 14 (1937) [6.07], Carol (1937) [0.50], Christmas Carol (1939) [1.13], Seconds Op. 18 (1936-39) [13.16], Sung into the Distance Op. 22 (1939) [6.48], Letter (1940) [2.28]. Dana Buresova (sop), Timothy Cheek (piano), Magda Caslavova (flute), Petr Zdvihal (violin), Jan Valta (violin), David Havelik (cello), rec. 13-20 July 2003, Domovina Studio, Prague. DDD SUPRAPHON SU3752-2 231 [70.13]. Further Information on Kapralova: www.kapralova.org
In one fell and gorgeous swoop Supraphon double the amount of Kapralova in the catalogue. The other landmark collection is the admirable disc from Studio Matous (MK 0049-2 011 - reviewed elsewhere on this site) who can be said to be the main progenitors of Kapralova's exposure on disc.
This is a winner - and very hot off the press too. Whenever you receive a disc like this with one singer you wonder whether this is to be another example of vibrato-blurred and smudged Slavonic 'style'. Not a bit of it. Buresova is steady in tonal emission despite the demanding and exposed writing. Admirable clarity, freshness and intelligent engagement with the words are the hallmarks of her wonderful singing. These qualities serve the music very well indeed. Buresova's voice reminded me of that of Susan Hamilton on the Delphian CD of the songs of Ronald Stevenson.
Here are all but five of the songs written by Kapralova. During her short life (she died of TB in Montpellier at the age of 25) she had an impressive range of teachers: Martinu, Chalabala, Munch, Talich, Novak and Boulanger. Her April Preludes were written for Firkusny. She conducted her Military Sinfonietta in Prague with the Czech Phil and in London with the BBC Orchestra.
Songs recur as a constant throughout her life. They are consonant with her tendency towards concise musical expression - intense through its very concentration. First impressions indicate a decidedly Gallic-ecstatic style. In the cycle Sparks from Ashes the French 'voice' is married with the archaic mysticism of Warlock's Frostbound Wood. The songs are heavy with the scents and sense of love, of melancholy, death and longing. A dreaminess rises like incense from this music - not as sensually dense as Szymanowski or Sorabji but broadly related in mood. In the Years are Silent (tr.24) a hooded tone is foremost. In the first song of the cycle Apple from the Lap it is Vaughan Williams' Bredon bells that ring out. The sloe-eyed smile and lulling pulse returns for Lullaby reminding me of Poulenc's famous hotel. A related setting, yet even more memorable, is the first song from Forever with its piano trilling and rocking transverse movement. The first really playful song is Spring Fair, the last entry in the Op. 10 collection. This is paralleled by Hands in which the piano seems to mimic a delightful babbling brook. Darker thoughts dominate the solo piano interlude set amidst the Op. 18 collection. Orthodox chant passes cloud-like over the writing in My dear one.
I have my doubts about one facet of the packaging. The 75 page booklet (superbly presented by the way) and the CD case fit into one of those slip-through presentation sleeves. At present the sleeve holds the two items firmly but in the long term ...?
The insert notes are by the sensitive and thoughtful pianist Timothy Cheek. Full texts and side-by-side translations into English, German and French are given. Congratulations to Supraphon for opting for a good size font.
Let us hope that soon we will see similar serious treatment for the music of British women of the same or adjacent generations: Lilian Elkingon, Dorothy Howell, Susan Spain-Dunk and Jane Joseph.
If you have a taste for the French school of chanson represented by Duparc, Poulenc and Faure in mesmeric, dreamy and expressive mode this disc needs to be on your Christmas list. Well done Supraphon and the Kapralova Society. I hope that there will be more.
© Review by Rob Barnett for MusicWeb, November 2003. Reprinted by permission.

Vitezslava Kapralova: Songs.
Vitezslava Kapralova was, despite her short life, prolific and original composer. [..] Songs form an important part of her creative output. [..] Both performers serve the music very well. [..] Superbly presented 75-page booklet, with commentary by Timothy Cheek, brings many important and interesting facts about songs and makes the impression of this great release complete.
From the review by Matej Kratochvil for Czech Music 6 (2003): 16.

Vitezslava Kapralova [1915-1940]. Portrait of the Composer.
The catalogue of compositions by Vitezslava Kapralova is slender and too easily overlooked. For this reason this 1998 CD from the thoughtful and audacious Studio Matous company is musically significant. If its only virtue was significance we could safely note its existence and pass on through a highway already thronged with CDs clamouring for attention but it offers more than that.
The single movement Sinfonietta has none of the caustic quality of Weill, nothing of neo-classicism. The main theme has a surging Hungarian edginess recalling Rozsa. It flies forward on wings of Olympian exuberance perhaps a little like Roussel or late Ibert but with lightening romantic voices from Dvorak and others such as Holst, Butterworth and Vaughan Williams, surely unknown to her. It is a work in which clarity of instrumentation is the goal and the achievement. The themes are yielding and nostalgic in much the same way as Martinu's works of the 1940s. There are also fastidiously impressionistic interludes like that at 9.57 where solo instruments chime in delicate echo of Ravel's orchestral intimacies. The themes are said to be military in nature but allowing for some tensile writing for brass at 13.34 belligerence is not a quality I link with this work; rather is this a work of Mediterranean magnificence.
The vibrant String Quartet sounds a little more neo-classical in its first movement contrasting with its successor's saturated romantic nostalgia. It is given a superbly lively performance and recording with some momentary harmonic spice. Once again a delicate but full-blooded spell is woven in the finale (which would make a good sampling point. tr.4). Kapralova stands in the strong string quartet tradition of Dvorak and Suk. I commend the work to those still thirsty for more after hearing those classic works as well as the Janacek.
The four April Preludes are played by Smykal. The recording is not of the best. While clear as a bell the piano sounds rather like a celesta at times. This is deeply affecting music commanding a vein of fantasy standing a little between Bax and Ravel with a dash of John Ireland along the way if that is not too outlandish an image. In the tender Ritornell there is a strong flavour of Martinu in the long yearning lines for the cello and 'pecked' figuration for the piano.
Kapralova studied with Talich and Chalabala (conducting) as well as with Novak (composition). In October 1937 she went to Paris to study with Boulanger and Munch. There she also worked with Martinu and had a love affair with him of which the Love Carol is a memento. The straight-talking Canteloube or even Czeslaw Marek are recalled in the Martinu setting of the carol. This contrasts with the idyllic melisma and richly furnished emotions of Kapralova's approach. The two composers worked together on a trio for wind instruments and then on the work that became Martinu's Tre Ricercari. This in turn inspired Kapralova to write the Partita for string orchestra and piano. Martinu had a decisive hand in the shaping and writing of this work especially in the finale. The work's central idyll is encased by two busy neo-classical pieces. The string orchestra here is not as silken-toned as it might have been and although clarity of orchestration remains the hallmark this is not a work of the stature of the Sinfonietta. It will appeal to those who respond to the de Falla Harpsichord Concerto, the light Dyson concertos (Leggiero, Chiesa, Camera) and to Martinu's Parisian works of the 1930s. Kapralova died young - a victim of illness in the South of France not of the hostilities.
It says much for Kapralova's standing and the strength of her music that Vilem Pribyl should have recorded Waving Farewell her song with orchestra. This stands in the great tradition of romantic scenas. Its contours are roundedly romantic and it is the most nationalistic of the works here but headily steered by Ravel's Daphnis and Szymanowski's Song of the Night. It is a superbly triumphant piece which would grace any singer's repertoire.
The notes in both Czech and English generously complement the music. Discoveries aplenty here of which the quartet, Sinfonietta, Love Carol, April Preludes and Ritornell are outstanding. Well worth the quest you will need to make if you want to find this treasurable CD.
© Review by Rob Barnett, for Musicweb, October 3, 2003. Reprinted by permission.

Iva Fleischhansova recital
On Sunday June 8th I finally caught up with one of the Iva Fleischhansova recitals in which she has been performing the three short pieces which Vitezslava Kapralova composed for violin and piano. It took place in th eagreeable setting of CharltonHouse near Greenwhich. The Burleska, Elegie and Legenda were composed at different times but make a satisfying whole and a nice addition to the repertoire of Czech violin music available for such recitals. Iva gave an informative introduction about these pieces and the tragically short life of the composer, and there could not have been a more sympathetic advocate in performance.
From a review by Greg Terian for The Dvorak Society Newsletter 64 (July 2003).

Vitezslava Kapralova: Skladby z detstvi. V teto publikaci vychazi poprve 8 detskych klavirnich skladeb Vitezslavy Kapralove, ktere komponovala ve veku deviti az dvanacti let. Vedle zvukomalebnych drobnosti (V risi baji, Pristav, Valka) tu nalezneme i skladby necekane vyzrale (Na dalekou cestu, V myslenkach, Touha, Valse triste, Po bitve belohorske). Jejich melodicka a harmonicka bohatost vypovidaji o nevsechnich kompozicnich schopnostech male skladatelky. Vsechny skladby jsou technicky snadno pristupne a ty nejlehci mohou hrat mali pianiste uz od 2. rocniku.
From a review by Amos Editio, May 2003.

Jenny Lin, piano. Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. October 25, 2002.
The Formosa Chamber Music Society presented a brilliantly impressive recital by the young Taiwanese-born American pianist, Jenny Lin at Weill Hall on October 25. [...] Not only was her recital commandingly played; it was both substantial repertoire-wise, and pianistically daunting as well! April Preludes, Op. 13, a set of four preludes composed in 1937 by the short lived Vitezslava Kapralova [1915-1940], a holdover from Ms. Lin's recital at Miller Theatre, launched the evening in auspicious fashion. These Kapralova pieces again impressed as music of substantial beauty and emotional weight, all the more so when played with such warmth, organic integrity and sincerity. When confronted with unfamiliar music, this writer is always tempted to look for ways to pigeonhole it with more famous fare (I was thinking of a synthesis of Szymanowski and Prokofiev, but had to concede that Kapralova marched to her own drummer). [...] The capacity audience was brilliantly enthusiastic and for very good reason. This was a memorable concert.
From a review by Harris Goldsmith for New York Concert Review, January / February 2003.

Kapralova's songs are some of the best to come from any Czech composer, and certainly deserve a place in today's concert halls. The song Leden [January] was written in March of 1933, during Kapralova's third year at the Brno Conservatory, when she was eighteen years old [..] [Its] instrumentation is certainly unusual (even for Kapralova, who orchestrated one of her songs, but wrote the remainder for piano and voice only). The poem is by the great Czech poet, playwright, and writer Vitezslav Nezval. At this time, Nezval espoused surrealism, which Kapralova captures superbly in her harmonies and colors.
From the program notes by Timothy Cheek for Leden's premiere performance at the University of Michigan Britton Recital Hall on January 19, 2003.

Vanocni preludium Vitezslavy Kapralove predstavuje dve a pul minuty sveziho divciho usmevu v podobe komorni hudby. Kraticky celek pusobi uzasne jemnym a prchavym dojmem jako mirne rozostrena fotografie vanocni zasnezene krajiny. Pruzracny pastyrsky motiv v barve horny s hobojem je zabaleny do zamlzene krajky drobnych smyccovych sestnactin oscilujicich v obou modech dur i moll soucasne. Barva harfy s klavirem, ktera pres smycce obcas prosvita, nutne vyvola asociaci s instrumentaci skladatelcina vzoru - s Bohuslavem Martinu, stejne jako radostne vysvitnuti cisteho duroveho souzvuku z jemne disonantniho prediva.
Czech Radio Publishing House, January 15, 2003.

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