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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
KOCH INTERNATIONAL KIC-CD-7742
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.

VITEZSLAVA KAPRALOVA
[...] 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.

NAVRCHOLU.cz