Reviews have been listed in chronological order by their publication date.
Women of Firsts: Art Songs by the First Important Twentieth Century Women Composers from the Czech Republic, Poland, United States, and France. Daniel Weeks, tenor; Naomi Oliphant, piano. Centaur CRC 2966.
The three-song set Navzdy recalls the finest vocal music of Janacek with its powerful expressionism and bracing contrasts and colors. There is also more than a hint of impressionism,
although delivered in the bolder, flamboyant colors of a Ravel. Ultimately, the voice is the composer's own, with nothing particularly feminine about it. The first song has an uneasy eeriness, while the second boils
with insistent fervency. The last is a memorable evocation of a passionate wedding night, crowned by a surging high A that draws the set to a thrilling climax. More than anything, these songs leave us hungry to know more of this woman's music.
From a review by Gregory Berg for the Journal of Singing, vol.66, no. 2 (November/December 2009)
Premiere of the Fortnight
It's been a long time since a composer has really entered the public consciousness and become a big name - she could have been the one.
From a preview (author unknown) written for the Classical Music Magazine, 7 November 2009.
Feminissimo! Women Playing Music by Women. Albany Records, Troy 1081 (2008)
Feminissimo! features nine compositions by women composers, including four not previously recorded. [...] The haunting Bracha by Meira Warshauer, makes a felicitous opening to the disc. [...] Other lyrical beauties on the recording are the Elegie by Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940), supported by a dense accompaniment of dissonant chords...
From a review by Nadine Sine for the IAWM Journal 2 (Fall 2009).
Simon Mawer. The Glass Room. New York: Other Press, 2009.
Author's Note: [...] A few non-fictional characters do make brief appearances. One such is the talented composer Vitezslava Kapralova, whose tragically short life seems emblematic of the brilliant but doomed First Republic of Czechoslovakia. I urge the reader to find out more about her, and her country.
Simon Mawer's reflective novel The Glass Room, shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and one of my reads of the year, digresses midway into a sub-story about a shortlived composer.
Vitezslava Kapralova, born in 1915 in Janacek's town, Brno, was a star pupil of the conductor Vaclav Talich and, in Paris, of the composer Bohuslav Martinu, whose lover she became (Martinu, though married, had two or three long-term liaisons, but that's another story).
In 1937, Kapralova conducted the Czech Philharmonic and, a year later, the BBC Symphony Orchestra in her own Military Sinfonietta. She married Jiri Mucha, the Jugendstil painter's son in April 1940 and, forced to flee Paris after the German invasion, died of tuberculosis in Montpellier two months later, aged 25.
Her music, edgy and mildly adventurous, fell into disuse. The only CD recording appeared last year on Koch.
There is, however, a rare chance to hear her Partita for piano and string orchestra live in Marylebone, London, tomorrow night (Helios Chamber Orchestra), and her string quartet in Gateshead next week (Skampa Quartet). The first is a UK premiere.
Kapralova's is a singular voice, precocious and secure. If you admired Mawer's novel as much as I did you will want to investigate its unofficial soundtrack.
From a review by Norman Lebrecht for his blog associated for the artsjournal.com, November 18, 2009. Released under the Creative Commons Licence.
Dramaturgicke skvosty a jejich zhodnoceni.
[...] Z ceskych skladatelek nemohla byt pominuta Vitezslava Kapralova. Jeji Partitou, op. 20 pro smycce a klavir uvedla Sinfonietta Cracovia spolu s Karlem Kosarkem koncert v brnenskem
Besednim dome 11.6. Dirigent Kaspar Zehnder ji podal vecne a sevrene a pritom s nalehavym vyrazem.
From a review by Karla Hofmannova for Hudebni rozhledy 8 (2009): 18.
Feminissimo! Women Playing Music by Women. Laura Kobayashi, violin; Susan Keith Gray, piano. (Albany 1081)
[..] The chromatic, lustrous beauty of Czech Vitezslava Kapralova's Elegie (1939) is a joy, all the more poignant because the composer died the year after composing it, at the age of 25.
From a review by Catherine Nelson for The Strad, June 2009, 87.
Hudebni forum z Brna s Janem Hlavacem, Cesky rozhlas 3 Vltava, 18. tyden.
Uvodni porad patril Vitezslave Kapralove a jeji rane Sonate Appassionate pro klavir.
Skladba z roku 1933 mela premieru o rok pozdeji v sale Konzervatore Brno v podani Frantiska Jilka
a pote nadlouho zmizela. I proto nove objevenou, roku 2006 nakladatelstvím Amos zrekonstruovanou
"mezeru" jiste oceni nejen fandove jednoho z nejpronikavejsich talentu nasi hudby.
Sympaticka byla pritomnost interpretky Alice Rajnohove, ostatne slovo interpreta by melo byt v
pocinech tohoto typu vzdycky standardem. Kdo nekdy absolvoval skladatelsky vecer konzervatore,
dokaze si mozna zive predstavit tehdejsi udiv nad ani ne osmnactiletym stvorenim,
ktere se znicehonic predstavi ctvrthodinovou, napady naditou porci tonu,
ktere - svete div se - dokazi svoje emoce udrzet na uzde, vsechno nevyzvanit a jeste vzbudit
zvedavost. I kdyz uvodni Appassionato az prilis kotvi v romanticke klavirni sazbe,
tu a tam prosvitne lakava souzvukova "pridrzlost," ktera je do uvedomele slohove studie vpasovana.
Zato druha veta Tema s variacemi svou pikantni a menlivou klavirni sazbou v leccems
pripomina jiz vrcholne skladby sve autorky, zejmena Dubnova preludia a
Variace na zvony kostela St-Etienne du Mont. Uvazime-li, ze dilo vzniklo roku 1933
(v prazskem skladatelskem cechu obvykle mrtvolno) a neboji se koketovat s atonalitou,
Zkratka a dobre, puvodne jsem se bal, ze pujde o dalsi pravem zapomenutou juvenilii,
ktera pouze dotvari tu cast obrazu o svem tvurci, jez mela zustat utajena.
I tak jsem byl pripraven vyslechnout ji z ciste humanitarnich duvodu.
Po absolvovani intenzivni naloze od sotva osmnactilete damy - s udajne krasne proriznutou pusou -
jsem uz radeji zticha...
Z recenze Lukase Sommera pro A Tempo Revue, May 5, 2009.
Vitezka Kapralova - skladatelka appassionata
Cesky rozhlas zaplnuje bila mista v historii ceske hudby. Tesne pred pulnoci v pondeli 27.4. prichystalo Hudební forum z Brna v prvnim z cyklu ctyr veceru o zenskych skladatelkach jeden
hudebni zapomenuty skvost ceske moderny - Sonatu appassionatu pro klavir (Opus c. 6) Vitezslavy Kapralove, jiz talentovana skladatelka slozila ve svych 18 letech.
A hned ve dvou premierovych provedenich ke srovnani, jednak ve svetove premiere od americke klaviristky Virginie Eskin, ktera v lonskem roce vydala u vydavatelstvi Koch International Classics vybor z Kapralove del,
a jednak druhe - ceske - obnovene premiere v podani Alice Rajnohove, ktera popisuje setkani se sonatou jako zjeveni a objevne prekvapeni.
Obdobi mezivalecne a valecne bylo trpkym svedkem predcasnych a nenavratnych odchodu mnoha nadejnych skladatelskych osobnosti a
mezi nimi rozhodne nezapada skladatelka a dirigentka Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940), ktera dokonce za svuj kratky zivot slozila vice del nez kuprikladu Leo Smit, Jehan Alain, Hugo Distler aj. [...]
Mezi jeji nejznamejsi dilo patri Vojenska symfonieta [.. ], osobitymi dily jsou klavirni Variace na zvonkohru Saint-Etienne du Mont, op. 16 (1938) nebo Dubnova preludia (Allegro ma non troppo, Andante, Andante semplice a Vivo), jez venovala klaviristovi Rudolfu Firkusnemu. Vrcholem tvorby jsou pak Dva ritornely pro violoncello a klavir, ale nepochybne i zminena Sonata appassionata.
Ze zpravy Milus Kotisove pro GITA (Genderovou informacni a tiskovou agenturu), April 29, 2009.
Laura Kobayashi: FEMINISSIMO! WOMEN PLAYING MUSIC BY WOMEN on ALBANY.
[...] Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940), daughter of Czech composer Vaclav Kapral and student of Martinu, died of tuberculosis. Her Elegie, one of the most richly expressive pieces in the collection, gives an all-too-brief glimpse of the composer’s ardent melodic and varied harmonic style. [...] Kobayashi and Gray successfully span the variety of styles the program offers, playing the older, drawing-room pieces with glowing sound and moist sensibility and slashing sharply in the more modern ones. Recommended more widely than to those who simply wish to explore music written by women.
From a review by Robert Maxham for Fanfare, (Classical Reviews), April 2, 2009.
Feminissimo! Women Playing Music by Women. Laura Kobayashi, violin; Susan Keith Gray, piano. (Albany 1081)
The collaboration, balance, and dynamic of the two musicians are a joy to hear...
From a review by Heather K. Scott for Strings Magazine, No. 168, April 2009.
In women's program, pianist takes center stage
"Ferocious Beauty" was the title of Friday's concert by the Chamber Orchestra of Boston, and it was intended to celebrate "strong, powerful women in music." [...] [Eskin] and the 14-member string ensemble opened with "Partita" by Vítezslava Kapralova. [...] "Partita" is written in a traditional tonal language shot through with striking dissonances, somewhat reminiscent of Hindemith. It's constructed like a Baroque concerto, with piano and strings in a back-and-forth dialogue. The outer movements are driven, with a strong sense of contrapuntal movement. The central slow movement is dreamy and reflective, with darker forces threatening to steal in and disturb the hard-won calm.
This was the East Coast premiere of the piece, and it is eminently worth hearing again. [...]
From a review by David Weininger, The Boston Globe, February 9, 2009.
"Ferocious Beauty" Offers Powerful Discoveries. Chamber Orchestra of Boston, directed by David Feltner, with Virginia Eskin, piano. Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, February 6, 2009.
It was an event of very rare importance - the first performance on the east coast of a remarkable work composed in 1939. Czech composer Vitezslava Kapralova died at the age of 25 barely a year after completing the work. Her Partita for Piano and Strings should place her in the musical firmament near Bartok and Stravinsky.
The first movement, Allegro energetico, is full of neo-classical drive and ceaseless motion. Soloist Virginia Eskin pulled spiky tones from the piano in the brusque ritornello that frames and supports the work, with the piano and strings exchanging jabs. In the central section the piano brought warmth and luscious waves of sound, painting a wash over the orchestra's ongoing rhythmic energy.
The Andantino opens with a theme of striking simplicity and intense tenderness. The warmth and intensity of the harmonies of this movement are evocative, and the musical language could be that of a highly popular contemporary film score. The long sequence of gestures that descend in pitch give a feeling of ethereal floating, suspended and timeless. A gentle cascade of chords closes that passage, and brings us back to the original simple melody. It is all of such heart-wrenching and sincere emotion that once word of this piece gets out, I see it as becoming a classical "greatest hit." The Presto, of course, is sparkling and playful, with interior sections of grace and delicacy, and ending with bold and majestic flourishes.
From a review by Liane Curtis for wophil.blogspot.com (available as at February 8, 2009).