2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008 (2)
2008 (1)
2007
2006
2005
2004 (2)
2004 (1)
2003
2001-2002
1993-2000
1949-1992
1938-1948
1933-1937

home



in chronological order (the latest review at the top)

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.

KAPRALOVA KOCH CD
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
DALLA KOCH ALCUNI BRANI SIGNIFICATIVI DELLA COMPOSITRICE CECA NELLA SPLENDIDA INTERPRETAZIONE DI VIRGINIA ESKIN AFFIANCATA DA STEPHANIE CHASE
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.

KRACHTIGE KAPRALOVA.
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.

NAVRCHOLU.cz