in chronological order (the latest review at the top)

Vitezslava Kapralova's Rarely Performed Elegy Rates More Play
[...] The first half of the evening's program included an impassioned performance of Bohuslav Martinu's "Three Madrigals" by Lewis and Bruce Williams, principal violist of the Austin Symphony. Lewis and pianist Rick Rowley then presented the rarely-heard "Elegy" by Martinu student Vitezslava Kapralova. Kapralova was a gifted young Czech composer destined to become a major figure. Sadly, her life was cut short by tuberculosis at the age of twenty-five in 1940. The "Elegy" is a beautiful piece and deserves to be better-known.
From a review by Paul E. Robinson for theartoftheconductor.com, 12 December 2008.

Virginia Eskin: KAPRALOVA April Preludes. Legend... on KOCH
[...] The program opens with one of her most distinctive efforts, the April Preludes of 1937. These four brief but eventful statements display a fleeting sure-footed appeal and subtle harmonic colorings that clearly indicate she had begun to absorb more cosmopolitan elements into her essential Slavic idiom. An even later work - the 1938 Variations on the Carillon of St. Etienne-du-Mont Church - demonstrates enormous skill in elucidating and exploiting the dramatic and expressive potential of a rather pedestrian and unpromising idea. The largest work here is a remarkable product of her 18th year, the ambitious 1933 Sonata appassionata , consisting of two big movements - a surging, roiling Maestoso followed by a cogent series of contrasting variations on a folk-like motif whose scope and diversity approach the symphonic. In fact, this could have served as the germ for a powerful orchestral opus. [...] The enterprising American pianist Virginia Eskin, who has recorded a measure of unusual repertoire in the past, gives this music the level of conviction and advocacy it deserves, and Stephanie Chase is an able collaborator. Recording quality and annotation are exemplary, but the absence of any timings is regrettable.
From a review bt Paul A. Snook for Fanfare, Nov/Dec. 2008.

KAPRALOVA: Violin & Piano Pieces. Virginia Eskin, p; Stephanie Chase, v. Koch 7742 - 64 minutes.
[...] The piano and violin-and-piano music here is richly melodic, highly chromatic, and bursting with invention. [...] Most striking are the slow pieces, especially the achingly gorgeous 'Legend' and the somber but soaring 'Elegy', both for violin and piano. Virginia Eskin and Stephanie Chase play with passion and sensitivity [...]. This is a welcome release.
From a review by Jack SULLIVAN for American Record Guide, Nov/Dec. 2008.

Vitezslava Kapralova: Works for Piano and for Violin and Piano. Stephanie Chase, violin; Virginia Eskin, piano (KOCH 7742)
Kapralova's music displays a remarkable mastery of form and harmony, and radiates youthful spontaneity, lyrical tenderness, and passionate intensity.
From a review by Edith Eisler for Strings Magazine, November 25, 2008.

Vitezslava Kapralova 1915-1940. Utwory na fortepian oraz skrzypce i fortepian.
[...] Gdy slucha sie Pieciu utworov na fortepian op. 1, z ktorych czesc wyszly spod reki szesnastolatki, uderza nie tylko dojrzalosc formy, ale tez niezwykle dla podlotka skupienie i oszczednosc wyrazu [..] jest to glos indywidualny i oryginalny. [...] Najbardziej monumentalne z nagranych na omawianym krazku dziel stanowi Sonata appassionata, op. 6, ktora osiemnastolatka naszkicowala z rozmachem - widac tu zaciecie wirtuozowskie typowe dla mlodych kompozytorow-pianistow, ale takze proby wyksztalcenia bardziej indywidualnego jezyka harmonicznego, przy wciaz czytelnym odwolywaniu sie do rodzimego melosu. Kontynuacja tych poszukiwan sa dziela powstale podczas studiow w Pradze, stanowiace synteze muzycznego impresjonizmu i ekspresjonizmu, zwlaszcza oryginalne Preludia kwietniowe, op.13, ktore wykonywal potem Rudolf Firkusny. Wresczie mamy na plycie dziela ostatnie, napisane juz we Francji: Wariacje n.t. carillonu kosciola St. Etienne du Mont, op. 16, utwor prawdziwie uz mistrzowski [..].
From a review by Marcin Zglinski for Muzyka21, 10 (2008): 45.

Vitezslava KAPRALOVA. Virginia Eskin, klavir a Stephanie Chase, housle. KOCH RECORDS, KIC-CD-7742
It is not so long ago that Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) was remembered only for her intimate association with Bohuslav Martinu and a tragically short life. Her music was not only sporadically performed but also seemed to be destined to fall into oblivion. The fact that today Kapralova is considered one of the most remarkable Czech musical personalities of the first half of the twentieth-century has much to do with the invaluable and relentless efforts of the Kapralova Society to make the composer's legacy available to the music loving public. Since its inception ten years ago, the Society initiated and supported a great number of interesting projects that have been instrumental in rediscovering Kapralova's considerable worth as a composer. The most important among them are the Kapralova Edition, an initiative to publish in print Kapralova's works (often in their first edition), and the profile recordings of Kapralova's music.
Following the "discovery" profile CDs of Studio Matous (Vitezslava Kapralova: Portrait of a Composer, 1998) and Supraphon (Forever Kapralova: Songs, 2003), another Kapralova-dedicated title, this time from the American label Koch International Classics, has been just added to the Kapralova Catalog. This new profile CD offers a representative selection of Kapralova's piano works and complete output of her music for violin and piano. All but one work featured on the disc are first recordings.
One of the surprises of this valuable disc is Kapralova's first opus, Five Compositions for Piano, composed during her studies at the Brno Conservatory. It is incredibly mature, with the composer's unique musical diction already present. In fact, I consider the closing piece of the cycle - "Funeral March" - to be one of the most remarkable compositions featured on the disc. Another work from the period is the outstanding Sonata Appassionata op. 6. The two-movement composition is remarkable not only for its abundance of original ideas but also for the masterly development of its form. While the first movement is in passionately conceived sonata form, the second is a cycle of variations that culminates in a grandiose fugue. Kapralova's impressionistic April Preludes op. 13 reflect the influence of Novak and Janacek; in her imaginative piano Variations sur le Carillon de l'Eglise St-Etienne du Mont op. 16 one can occasionally detect elements of the musical palette of Bohuslav Martinu.
Kapralova had a natural affinity for the piano, and she continued writing for it throughout her life. In contrast, she wrote only three works for violin: Legend and Burlesque op. 3 were composed when she was still a student at the Brno Conservatory, while Elegy from 1939, dedicated to the memory of Karel Capek, is one of her last works. All three compositions are highly effective, with Burlesque being the most interesting of the three (it was also published during the composer's lifetime).
Kapralova's music on the Koch CD is interpreted by two renowned American artists - the pianist Virginia Eskin and violinist Stephanie Chase. As Kapralova's compositions are often technically demanding and pose various interpretative challenges, they should be rendered by highly experienced performers who are in full command of their technical and expressive skills. Both Eskin's and Chase's performances clearly demonstrate that they are entirely up to this challenge: not only are these performers equipped with superb technique but they are also able to interpret the music with a sensitivity that underscores the hallmarks of Kapralova's compositions - the abundance of creative ideas, extraordinary sensitivity, delicate colours, and logical, rational organization of the musical material. Excellent liner notes written by Karla Hartl, so comprehensive and compact that they read as a miniature monograph, add to the attractiveness of this release. I have no doubt that it will not only please Kapralova enthusiasts but also add many others to her following.
Review by Veroslav Nemec for Czech Music Quarterly and the IAWM Journal (Fall 2008). Reprinted by permission.

Vitezslava Kapralova: April Preludes, Legend, Burlesque, Five compositions for Piano, Elegy, Sonata Appassionata, Carillon Variations. Virginia Eskin, piano, Stephanie Chase, violin. 2008 KOCH Entertainment LP. Manufactured and Distributed by KOCH International Classic A KOCH Entertainment Company. Made in U. S. A.
Anglictina v predchozich radcich neni projevem dnes konjukturalniho anglo-ceskeho vyjadrovani, nybrz dokladem neceho mnohem sympatictejsiho: pronikani ceske kultury do povedomi kulturniho sveta. Jedno z nejvetsich vydavatelstvi v USA - Koch Records, puvodne americka odnoz stejnojmenneho rakouskeho vydavatelstvi, ktera se zcela osamostatnila a vlastni obrovskou distribucni sit po celych Spojenych statech - totiz letos vydalo CD venovane klavirnim a houslovym skladbam Vitezslavy Kapralove v excelentnich nahravkach klaviristky Virginie Eskin z Bostonu a houslistky Stephanie Chase z New Yorku, ktere ma vzhledem ke vsem uvedenym okolnostem velkou sanci prispet k zakotveni dila Kapralove v sirsich posluchacskych kruzich.
O tento pozoruhodny a vysostne chvalyhodny pocin se zaslouzila Spolecnost Vitezslavy Kapralove (The Kapralova Society), sidlici v kanadskem Torontu, a jmenovite jeji predsedkyne Mgr. Karla Hartlova, absolventka Univerzity Karlovy a Univerzity v Torontu, ktera je iniciatorkou a hybatelkou vsech akci, jez spolecnost uskutecnuje. Neni jich malo: pripomenme alespon premierova uvadeni del Kapralove, jimz vloni vevodila puvodni premiera kantaty Ilena na JAMU v Brne, vydavani skladeb autorky tiskem (vedle Concertina a Ritornelu, jez vydal Bärenreiter, vysly tez autorciny prvni kompozicni pokusy, pisen Leden pro hlas, fletnu, dvoje housle, violoncello a klavir i souborne pisnove dilo - to vse ve vzorovem cesko-anglickem vydani v edici Amos). Z cinnosti Spolecnosti nelze neuvest pravidelne vydavani The Kapralova Society Journal s originalnimi prispevky z pera svetovych muzikologu a s vycerpavajici dokumentaci tvorby Kapralove (Mgr. Hartlova v ni postupuje den po dni a ke vsemu dokaze nalezt patricnou dokumentaci: takovou pramennou zakladnu nema lecktery z nejvetsich svetovych autoru!). K temto aktivitam se radi tez vydavani CD s dilem Vitezslavy Kapralove. Dosud vysel za prispeni The Kapralova Society Portret skladatelky v Editio Matous a komplet pisni v Supraphonu. Nyni tedy poprve pristupuje i zahranicni vydavatelstvi s nahravkami housloveho a klavirniho dila Kapralove.
Vytvarne je CD ladeno bilo-modre, s peknou fotografii Vitulky na zadni strane bookletu, ktery obsahuje podrobny a vystizny komentar k nahranym dilum, opet z pera Karly Hartlove. Kapralova je reprezentovana tvorbou z let 1931-32 (Pet skladeb pro klavir op. 1) az 1938 (Variace na zvony kostela v St. etienne du Mont), pricemz posledni kraticka skladba na zaver je dokonalym "dorecenim" celku: Pisnicka pro klavir z roku 1936 je jakymsi "koncentratem" hudebniho mysleni Kapralove a soucasne i vzdalenym odkazem k Bohuslavu Martinu, ktery Kapralovou nejradeji a nejcasteji oslovoval Pisnicko.
Dilo Vitezslavy Kapralove nahraly dve americke umelkyne. Virginia Eskin je pianistka venujici se prevazne tvorbe dvacateho stoleti, ale nejen ji. K ceske hudbe ma vyhraneny vztah - hraje velmi rada Dvoraka a natocila mimo jine i dila skladatelu z Terezina. Houslistka Stephanie Chase zacinala jako zazracne dite (hrala udajne uz ve dvou letech) a jeji siroky repertoar sahajici od baroka po 21. stoleti tomu odpovida. Obe zaslouzi za nahravku dila Kapralove nejvyssi uznani: dokonala technicka uroven se na ni snoubi s hlubokym prozitkem a velkou imaginaci.
Review by Jindra Bartova for Opus Musicum 4 (October 2008). Reprinted by permission.

Vitezslava Kapralova
Pianiste Virginia Eskin wijdt haar nieuwste cd aan nooit eerder uitgebrachte muziek van Vitezslava Kapralova. Behalve dan 'April Preludes', dat drieste vierdelige werk waarmee het programma opent. De ongebondenheid en de bezieling die meteen aan de dag treden is kenmerkend voor Kapralova's totale oeuvre. Deels geschreven nog aan het conservatorium van Brno waar ze als 16-jarige al de beste van haar generatie was en beloond werd met een beurs om naar Parijs te gaan. Daar was ook haar landgenoot de componist Bohuslav Martinu, die een groot bewonderaar en pleitbezorger van haar en haar muziek werd. Deuren openden zich als vanzelf voor de excentrieke Tsjechische die een geweldige netwerker was en op haar 23ste in London voor het BBC-Orchestra haar eigen symfonie dirigeerde. Helaas, amper twee jaar later overleed ze in 1940 aan tuberculose. Veertig werken liet ze na en die zijn het waard om ontdekt te worden.
Kapralova's muzikale taal is zuiver en rijk. Ze ontdekte wegen om van zware materie aangename kost te maken. Ze goochelt met bliksemachtige explosies, speelse loopjes en stralende kleuren. Impressionistisch plus expressionistisch. In de Amerikaanse musici, pianiste Virginia Eskin en violiste Stephanie Chase vond Kapralova prima vertolkers van haar muziek. Een cd die in elke klassieke collectie hoort; die op de repeat knop kan blijven staan!
Review by Patricia Werner Leanse for OPZIJ (October 2008). Reprinted by permission.

Virginia Eskin Records Works of a Talented But Neglected Czech Composer Who Died Young.
Vitezslava Kapralova, Virginia Eskin, piano, Stephanie Chase, violin, Koch International Classics, © 2008, KIC-CD-7742, 64:44.
Kapralova was developing an increasingly distinctive style as the 1930s progressed, but even the earliest pieces played here, the "Five Compositions for Piano", Op. 1, reveal an individual personality. The piano writing is very assured, the composer has obvious lyrical and melodic gifts, and there is variety among the five pieces. They come out of the rich 19th-century Czech tradition of small character pieces for piano, but never lapse into sentimentality. The CD opens with the strongest of Kapralova's works, four "April Preludes", Op. 13, brief pieces that manage to sound both impulsive and substantial. I particularly enjoy the simple, Russian-sounding No. 3 and the Scriabinesque abandon of the first prelude's opening. [...] "Legend" and "Burlesque" for violin and piano from 1932, are charming pieces, free-flowing and rather subtle. The wispy "Elegy", from 1939, veers further away from conventional tonality. [...] The 2-movement "Sonata Appassionata," Op. 6, like so many neo-Romantic efforts in sonata form, is a bit contrived. The second movement is a busy set of variations on a sing-songy theme. A perfunctory fugal variation comes right in the middle where one expects it. Eskin's performance is dynamic and meets the technical challenges of this virtuosic but formula-bound work. The "Variations sur le Carillon de l'Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont", Op. 16, inspired by the bells of the Paris church, is far more interesting. The theme is mysterious, not nearly as square in its construction as that of the sonata's second movement and it seems to invite the exploration that the variations provide. The piano writing shows great sensitivity to timbre and the harmony is adventurous.
Overall, this recording has great value. It introduces listeners to the beautiful music of an overlooked composer in fine performances.
From a review by Paul Orgel for Classical Voice of New England, October 2008.

Vitezslava Kapralova: Musica Cameristica.
[...] In definitiva un disco che propone una selezione significativa dei brani cameristici della compositrice ceca, permettendo nel contempo di seguire l'evoluzione del suo percorso stilistico.
From a review by Marco del Vaglio for Nuova e Nostra, September 28, 2008.

CD Review. Vitezslava Kapralova. Koch Records 2008
This comes as a very valuable addition to the select Kapralova discography. Tragically short-lived though she was, the Moravian composer left behind more than mere markers of potential greatness. [...] The performances of this too-little known music are terrifically engaging. The notes by Karla Hartl are just right as well. Add this to your select discography of a composer whose early death deprived Czechoslovakia of a burgeoning talent.
From a review by Jonathan Woolf for MusicWeb.uk, August 2008

The Music of Vitezslava Kapralova
[Her] musical language is surprisingly mature and well crafted [....] [and] sounds to be equal parts of early Bartok, pre-atonality Berg, and of course Janacek. Each piece is remarkably expressive (of course it helps that the performers here are so wonderfully expressive as well) with equal amounts of moribund and ponderous music balanced by spunky and fiery compositions.
From a review by Jay Batzner for Sequenza21.com, August 14, 2008.

The Music by Vitezslava Kapralova. Koch International Classics [7742].
[...] Kapralova's contact with Bohuslav Martinu was both significant and profitable in a stylistic sense. However, she never embraced Martinu's interest in Central European folk forms; Kapralova's music remained suave, sophisticated, elegant and predominantly urban until the end. Listeners coming to Kapralova through this disc for the first time will find it graceful and unsentimental, yet emotionally involved. Kapralova's music is also very ambitious and often goes for the grand gesture; a Ravelian sweep of notes may appear in a place where one might expect something more restrained, but as things worked out for Kapralova, it's just as well that she reached for the brass ring every time. Certainly, Kapralova was one of the major female composers in history, despite her short time on earth; this Koch disc does her music considerable justice and serves as a strong introduction to Kapralova's music.
From a review by Dave Lewis for Allmusic.com, July 2008

Vitezslava KAPRALOVA. Virginia Eskin, klavir a Stephanie Chase, housle. KOCH RECORDS, KIC-CD-7742
Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940) patrila jeste donedavna ke skladatelkam, o nichz se zdalo, ze jsou odsouzeny k zapomneni. Jeji hudba znela jen sporadicky a znalosti o jejim zivote se v nasi hudebni verejnosti omezily na dva fakty: ze zemrela velmi mlada a ze ji pojil duverny vztah k Bohuslavu Martinu. Na tom, ze je dnes vnimana jako jedna z nejpozoruhodnejsich osobnosti ceske kultury prvni poloviny 20. stoleti, ma nedocenitelnou zasluhu kanadska The Kapralova Society. Za deset let sve existence iniciovala tato spolecnost nespocet zajimavych projektu, jez priblizuji hudebni verejnosti tvurci odkaz Kapralove: za vsechny pripomenme radu tistenych edic jejich del (pricemz se mnohdy jedna o historicky prvni vydani) a predevsim pak nahravky jejich skladeb, mezi nimiz zvlaste vyznamnou pozici zaujimaji profilova CD.
Po objevnych nahravkach Studia Matous (Vitezslava Kapralova - portret skladatelky, 1998) a Supraphonu (vynikajici pisnovy komplet, 2003) se v kvetnu letosniho roku rozrostla rada profilovych CD o dalsi titul, tentokrat zamorske provenience - od americkeho vydavatelstvi Koch Records. Toto CD nabizi reprezentativni prurez klavirni tvorbou Kapralove a souborne provedeni jejich skladeb pro housle a klavir, pricemz u vetsiny del se jedna o "first recording."
Uz ve svem prvnim opusu, Peti skladbach pro klavir, jenz vznikl jeste v dobe konzervatornich studii, prekvapi Kapralova neuveritelnou vyzralosti a vyhranenosti sve hudebni dikce, zaverecny "Smutecni pochod" povazuji dokonce za jednu z nejpusobivejsich skladeb celeho CD vubec. Take velkolepa Sonata Appassionata op. 6 je studentskou praci. Dvouveta skladba zaujme nejen mnozstvim neotrelych napadu, ale predevsim skvele a originalne zvladnutou vystavbou. Prvni vetu pojala Kapralova jako rozevlatou sonatovou formu, druhou vetu pak jako variacni cyklus, jenz vrcholi grandiozni fugou. V impresionisticky ladenych Dubnovych preludiich op. 13 citime vliv Novakuv a Janackuv, v napaditych Variacich na zvonkohru kostela St-Etienne du Mont op. 16 z roku 1938 zaznamename navic drobne, lec nepreslechnutelne nazvuky pripominajici Bohuslava Martinu.
Zatimco klavirni tvorbe se Kapralova venovala po cely zivot velmi intenzivne, pro housle napsala pouhe tri skladby. Legenda a Burleska op. 3 vznikly jeste na brnenske konzervatori, Elegie z roku 1939 (venovana pamatce Karla Capka) patri naopak k jejim poslednim kompozicim vubec. Jedna se o dila po vsech strankach zajimava a nastrojove vdecna, nejvetsi pozornost si bezesporu zaslouzi svezi Burleska (jez ostatne jako jedina z houslovych skladeb vysla tiskem jeste za autorcina zivota).
Interpretace vsech del na tomto CD se ujaly renomovane americke umelkyne - pianistka Virginia Eskin a houslistka Stephanie Chase. Skladby Kapralove jsou z velke vetsiny technicky velmi narocne a vyrazove natolik osobite, ze je mohou zvladnout jen skutecne zkuseni hraci. Virginia Eskin a Stephanie Chase se sveho ukolu zhostily znamenitym zpusobem: nejenze jsou vybavene vynikajici technikou, ale predevsim dokazaly ve sve hre s naprosto neomylnym citem pretlumocit to, co je pro tvorbu V. Kapralove zvlast charakteristicke: velika tvurci fantazie se tu poji s mimoradnou senzitivnosti a jemna zvukova barevnost s naprosto prehlednou a racionalni stavbou. K atraktivnosti nahravky prispiva navic skvely pruvodni text Karly Hartl, jenz je natolik fundovany a hutny, ze jej lze temer vnimat jako malou monografii. Verim, ze toto CD nejenze potesi obdivovatele dila Vitezslavy Kapralove, ale ze ji i ziska dalsi priznivce.
Unabridged version of a review by Veroslav Nemec for Harmonie, reprinted by permission.

[...] Kapralova was a composer of the early 20th century with a somewhat undecidedly Romantic style, relying on melody while using a tonal vocabulary more on the order of Impressionism and even heading toward the abstract. Its very edges can feel something like the lyrically atonal compositions of Berg. Kapralova's music is lovely to listen to, but isn't at all predictable. [...]
From a review by Anna Reguero for The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 18, 2008.

Vitezslava Kapralova | Koch International Classics, 2008.
An incredibly gifted musician, Vitezslava Kapralova composed music with complexity and grandeur [...]. If you are looking for highly sophisticated piano music rich in texture, clarity and depth, look no further.
From a review by Aaron Green for About.com, July 6, 2008.

Late on the scene is a new CD from Koch [KIC 7742] of works for solo piano and for violin and piano by Vitezslava Kapralova, all but one in first recordings.
The disc enables us to follow the progression of Kapralova's piano writing from the Five Compositions opus 1 of 1931/32 with its hints of Debussy, followed by the powerful Appassionata Sonata of 1933 with its appealing second movement variations, through to the April Preludes of 1937 and the Variations sur le Carillon de l'Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont of 1938 in which her own distinctive voice emerged.
The April Preludes have been recorded at least twice before but it has taken a long time for the Variations to appear. The story goes that Kapralova was enjoying cafe life in the Latin Quarter one day when she heard the carillon from Saint-Etiennne-du-Mont sounding forth. The impact was such that she rushed back to her quarters to set down the theme. It was to evolve into a substantial set of variations and is a touching memento of a time and place.
Getting on for a quarter of this hour-long disc is taken up with three works which Kapralova composed for violin and piano. The Legend and lively Burlesque of 1932 are works of amazing assurance for a 16 year old, with lyrical and rewarding writing for the violin. They are a joy to hear. The Elegy of 1939 completes this group. The little Pisnicka for solo piano which concludes the CD simply fades away into the ether as did the life of its young composer in June 1940.
I recall that the American pianist Virginia Eskin gave two recitals for the BBC some years ago, encompassing such composers as MacDowell, Gottschalk, Arthur Foote and Amy Beach. As the new disc shows, she is still prepared to take up lesser known repertoire.She makes the best possible advocate for these Kapralova pieces. In the violin works she is joined by Stephanie Chase who delivers these delightful miniatures with affection and poise.
Listening to this collection has been a rewarding experience. The Kapralova Society and Karla Hartl deserve our gratitude for bringing the Kapralova legacy into circulation by sponsoring a series of CDs over the years. This latest was recorded in New York in July 2007.
Review by Greg Terian for the Dvorak Society of Great Britan Newsletter, July 2008. Reprinted by permission.

Kapralova: Pezzi per pianoforte e per violino e pianoforte
Un recente cd della Koch ci offre l'opportunita di approfondire ulteriormente la produzione di Vitezslava Kapralova, compositrice ceca morta a soli 25 anni nel 1940, grazie alla proposizione, per la maggior parte in prima assoluta, di una serie di brani scritti, per pianoforte o per violino e pianoforte, da questa figura prestigiosa del Novecento europeo. Il panorama prende in considerazione i tre periodi, nei quali possiamo dividere sommariamente l'esperienza musicale della Kapralova, partendo dagli anni iniziali a Brno (1930-35), per poi passare alla successiva esperienza praghese con maestri del calibro di Talich e Novak (1935-37), fino ad arrivare agli ultimi anni, trascorsi nello stimolante ambiente parigino, dove la musicista si perfezionò con Munch, Nadia Boulanger e con il connazionale Martinu.
Così, al primo periodo appartengono brani quali Legend, op. 3a (1932) e Burlesque, op. 3b (1932), entrambi per violino e pianoforte, ancora legati alla tradizione popolare, che denotano una forte sensibilita romantica, presente in modo ancora più marcato nelle Cinque composizioni per pianoforte, op. 1 (1931-32) e nella Sonata appassionata, op. 6 (1933), dove l'autrice lascia anche intuire una disposizione verso le istanze della musica del suo tempo. Tale peculiarita emerge in modo abbastanza netto in Little Song (1936) e April Preludes, op. 13 (1937) e subira un'ulteriore evoluzione e rafforzamento durante la permanenza a Parigi, come testimoniano le Variazioni sul Carillon della Chiesa Saint- Etienne-du-Mont, op. 16 (1938) ed Elegy per violino e pianoforte (1939).
Per quanto riguarda l'interpretazione, essa e stata affidata a due notissime rappresentanti della musica statunitense, la pianista Virginia Eskin e la violinista Stephanie Chase. La prima ha al suo attivo una serie di cd rivolti ad un repertorio quanto mai vasto, eseguito da sola o in formazioni cameristiche, che spazia dalla musica scritta nei campi di concentramento a pezzi rag creati da compositrici americane. Sempre nell'ambito della musica al femminile, la Eskin ha curato il programma "First Ladies of Music," consistente in una serie di documentari radiofonici che hanno riscosso molto successo e grazie ai quali ha ricevuto il Premio Clarion 2007. Dal canto suo Stephanie Chase ha all'attivo una carriera spettacolare, iniziata quando aveva appena due anni, che l'ha portata praticamente in tutto il mondo. Fondamentale per la sua formazione e stato l'incontro in Belgio, dove ha soggiornato diversi anni, con il grande Arthur Grumiaux, che ha sempre avuto per lei un occhio di riguardo. Padrona di un repertorio che spazia dal classico al contemporaneo, ha anche inciso diversi cd, molto apprezzati da pubblico e critica, utilizzando sia strumenti dell'epoca che moderni, spesso aggiungendo ai concerti cadenze di sua creazione. Molto intensa anche la sua attivita di docente, portata avanti in passato al Massachussetts Institute of Technology e al Conservatorio di Boston ed attualmente alla Steinhardt School of Education all' Universita di New York. Entrambe le artiste hanno dato grande lustro all'incisione e, se la Eskin, impegnata nell'intero cd, e riuscita con la sua eccezionale bravura a far emergere le molteplici sfumature sottese ai brani della Kapralova, la Chase, dall'alto della sua enorme esperienza, ha fornito il suo decisivo apporto in Legend, op. 3a , Burlesque, op. 3b ed Elegy, mostrando un ottimo affiatamento con la pianista.
In definitiva un disco, al quale la Kapralova Society ha dato il suo decisivo contributo, che ha diversi meriti, fra i quali quelli di aver proposto una selezione significativa dei brani per pianoforte e per violino e pianoforte della compositrice ceca, permettendo nel contempo di seguire l'evoluzione del suo percorso stilistico.
Review by Marco del Vaglio for Guide di Dada, June 27, 2008. Reprinted by permission.

Virginia Eskin Plays Kapralova
As the recent creator and host of "First Ladies of Music," pianist Virginia Eskin can be counted on to research and introduce works by women composers. For this disc featuring works by the Czech composer Vitezslava Kapralova (1915 - 1940), Eskin teams up with violinist Stephanie Chase. The results reflect the nostalgia and tristesse of middle Europe just before the savagery of World War II. [...] Listening to Eskin play Kapralova's April Prelude and Sonata Appassionata is a mesmerizing experience. With Eskin's sensitive interpretation, the passion and feelings of this young woman are vividly transmitted. Eskin and Chase combine to perform a hauntingly evocative Elegy reminiscent, in some ways, of Stravinsky and Debussy, but powerful enough to make this woman's music stand alone. Altogether this recording is an important milestone in Kapralova's discography and testifies to the memory of a brilliant mid-twentieth century composer.
From a review by 'Book Worm' for Amazon.com, June 13, 2008.

Vitezslava Kapralova [1915-1940] - Chamber music.
Virginia Eskin (piano); Stephanie Chase (violin); rec. July 2007, Performing Arts Center, Purchase, NewYork, Theater C. DDD. KOCH INTERNATIONAL KIC-CD-7742 [64:42].
Kapralova came from a cultivated and musically sympathetic family in Brno. There she attended the Conservatory, studying composition with Vilem Petrzelka and conducting with Zdenek Chalabala. From those student years come Five Compositions, Legend and Burlesque, and the Sonata Appassionata. These works are not backward-looking even so.
The Legend is honeyed and hoarse with lyricism. One might guess early-mid period Delius - especially those rhapsodic floating lyric tendrils for the violin. The Burlesque is an elegantly pointed May-Morning carefree piece; nothing of the music-hall. One can also sense Szymanowski's Arabian intoxicants in the richly allusive Elegy. The Five Compositions include a plangent and darkly dissonant Maestoso perhaps similar to later Frank Bridge or to John Ireland's Ballade. The Cantabile moderato is a liquid romance akin to the Legend. The Andante proceeds subtly while the Tempo di menuetto is again free of cares. The Tempo di marcia funebre with its ‘strummed' downbeat is dignified and optimistic. The writing here recalls not only that of Ireland but Bax in his strenuously thunderous moments in the second and third piano sonatas. From these student years we also hear the confident and gestural Sonata Appassionata which has much florid heroic writing yet remains impressionistic. The spinning rivulets of sound and the harmonic scheme repeatedly recall John Ireland - a composer whose music it is unlikely she would have known. The second and final movement is a shining set of six variations.
Of the mature works the four April Preludes appear first on the disc. They were championed by Rudolf Firkusny who was later to become such an advocate of the piano music of Martinu. It is not just the title but the style that again takes me to Kapralova's English contemporaries: John Ireland and Frank Bridge. The first prelude is mercurial, touched with the dark threat explicit in Ireland's Ballade. The second Prelude recalls Bridge's 1922 Piano Sonata while the third is a most delicately drawn bloom with a melody of Warlockian innocence. The last prelude has an unaccountable Oriental accent as if Kapralova had been influenced by Karol Szymanowski. The Carillon Variations were published after Martinu had persuaded Michel Dillard to support the work. It is another subtle, perfumed and delicate work which is fragile and fantastic yet resilient and, as in the case of the final variation, stonily defiant in the manner of Rachmaninov.
After her studies in Brno she moved to Prague where she attended master-classes by Novak and Talich which surely stood her in good stead for writing her 1937 Military Sinfonietta dedicated to President Eduard Benes. At the premiere conducted the Czech Philharmonic. Staying in Paris she was drawn in particular to the music of Stravinsky and paid tribute to Petrushka in her large orchestral Suita Rustica (1938). Her last work was the elegy written as an in memoriam to Karel Capek.
The notes are by Karla Hartl who keeps the Kapralova Society responsive and active and without whose support this recording would not have happened.
There are a handful of Kapralova recordings: the Studio Matous Portrait, song collection on Supraphon and String Quartet.
Shame about the lacks of dates and timing in the track listings. That said, the recording is strong and the performances sensitive and completely committed as if Eskin and Chase had known the music for many years. It's a measure of Koch's values and judgement that the gaps between tracks are unusually generous. It really pays off.
Review by Rob Barnett for MusicWeb, June 8, 2008. Reprinted by permission.

Nieuwe cd van onterecht vergeten Vitezslava Kapralova.
Enkele jaren geleden stuitte ik tijdens de voorbereidingen voor een radioprogramma op muziek van de Tsjechische Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940). Al meteen bij de eerste klanken van haar Twee liederen opus 4 werd ik overrompeld door de sprankelende pianopartij, die in haar duizelingwekkende wervelingen herinneringen oproept aan Debussy en Ravel. Kapralova doorspekt dit impressionistische getinkel echter met stevig gehamerde akkoorden, die de melancholieke zangpartij een duistere lading geven. Hierin klinken haar Tsjechische wortels door. Ook in de andere stukken op de twee tot nu toe beschikbare cd's ontpopt Kapralova zich als een waardig erfgenaam van Janacek en Martinu, met wie zij haar Moravische afkomst deelt: zij werd geboren in Brno.
Ik besloot haar centraal te stellen in mijn programma Componist van de week (VARA Radio 4, 11-15 juli 2007), waarna een eindeloze zoektocht begon naar materiaal. Want ondanks de enorme kwaliteit en zeggingskracht van haar muziek, is Kapralova nog altijd zo goed als onbekend. Dankzij de Kapralova Society kreeg ik opnames van de Tsjechische omroep en van particulieren, waarmee ik een unieke serie van vijf uitzendingen samenstelde. Zelden ontving ik zoveel reacties als juist op deze reeks – mensen vroegen mij verbijsterd waarom deze componist verder nooit op de radio te horen is, net zomin als op de concertpodia. Helaas is dat het lot van veel getalenteerde vrouwen – mannen gaan nu eenmaal voor, zelfs bij vrouwelijke programmeurs.
Gelukkig komt hier mondjesmaat verandering in, want de pianisten Marja Bon, Marcel Worms en de fluitiste Eleonore Pameijer hebben inmiddels werk van Kapralova uitgevoerd, altijd tot groot genoegen van het publiek. En deze week verscheen een derde, geheel aan de muziek van Kapralova gewijde cd, met acht stukken die werden ingespeeld door de pianiste Virginia Eskin en de violiste Stephanie Chase. Zoals het indrukwekkende Variations sur le Carillon de l'Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, dat Kapralova in Frankrijk componeerde, waar ze in 1937 op uitnodiging van Bohuslav Martinu naartoe was gegaan. Hij schreef bewonderend: ‘Ik moet deze variaties steeds opnieuw spelen, het zijn allemaal kleine gedichten en de eerste variatie is een schoonheid.' Eskin speelt het stuk met een lichtvoetig maar krachtig toucher en veel gevoel voor nuance.
Opvallend is de zelfverzekerde toon van Kapralova, niet alleen in deze variaties, die ze schreef op haar 23e, maar ook in jeugdwerkjes als Composities voor piano opus 1, en de Legende en Burlesque voor viool en piano, die ontstonden rond haar 16e. Uit al haar muziek klinkt een uiterst krachtige stem, die trefzeker zegt wat zij te zeggen heeft. En dat is veel: je wordt als luisteraar voortdurende bij je emotionele lurven gegrepen, nu eens met verleidelijk lyrische passages, dan weer met fors beukende partijen, die haar gepassioneerde Slavische gemoed verraden. Bij Kapralova doet elke noot ertoe, alsof ze haar vroegtijdige dood voorvoelde. Ze stierf in 1940, op haar 25e, maar liet desondanks een oeuvre na van zo'n vijftig werken.
Het is jammer dat de orkestmuziek van Kapralova niet geprogrammeerd is in het nieuwe seizoen van de Vrijdag van Vredenburg, waarin Tsjechië centraal staat; er klinkt wel werk van Janacek en van haar leermeester en latere geliefde Martinu. Op mijn verzoek heeft de bibliotheek van de omroep inmiddels alle beschikbare partituren van Kapralova aangeschaft, zodat niets een uitvoering in het volgende seizoen in de weg staat. - Ik ga de programmeurs een exemplaar geven van deze schitterende cd!
CD Vitezslava Kapralova, Koch International Classics KIC CD 7742
Review by Thea Derks, May 28, 2008. First appeared on the website of Vara Radio 4, the Dutch national broadcaster.

Classical music finds new hope in Kuwait
Religion is as old as human hope and fear, while music is as old as human joy and sadness. Both explain the immanent needs of the human soul, and date back to the very beginning of human history. Listening to good music makes me personally happy, especially classical music, more specifically chamber music. Last week, I had a reason to feel happy twice. I attended Czech Ladies Quartet at Al Babtain Library on Sunday, May 4 [...]. The Kapralova Quartet was excellent, and very charming. Kapralova, within a short span, created an impressive body of works that earned her the distinction as the most important lady composer in the history of Czech music. There is no doubt that had she lived longer she would have become one of the greatest women composers in Europe. [...] I am searching for more of her records and scores, and I recommend that you, music lovers, too undertake that task...
Review by Cezary Owerkowicz for Arab Times, May 8, 2008.