Reviews are listed in the order of their publication date, with the latest review on the top of the page. For reviews by year, follow the menu in the left column.
Perspectives: Music by women composers for violin and piano. Dawn Wohn, vn, Esther Park, pno; liner notes, edited by David Brin,
with layout and design by Lonnie Kunkel. Delos Productions, Inc., DE3547 (2019).
Perspectives offers a compilation of shorter works for violin and piano by women composers from the 1890s to the present day.
The composers featured on the CD include:
Reena Esmail (b. 1983); Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b. 1939); Vitezslava Kapralova (1915–1940); Jung Sun Kang (b. 1983); Chihchun Chi-sun Lee (b. 1970);
Florence Price (1887–1953); Lili Boulanger (1893–1918); vivian Fine (1913–2000); and Amy Beach (1869–1944). This stunning collection is a welcome addition
to the concert violin repertoire, as it contains some of the more familar works of the historical composers along with some relatively unknown
works by contemporary women. ... Legenda (1932) is an early work in the short but brilliant career of Czech composer Vitezslava Kapralova.
She composed it when she was 18. It was the first of three pieces that she wrote for violin and piano, and it shows her superlative gift for bittersweet melodic invention.
During this student phase, Kapralova's output can be interpreted as modernizing the Czech influences around her, which she did so well that
her work still sounds contemporary. ... A woman composer today has a good chance of being included on a concert program, but a woman composer from the past
is under a greater disadvantage—her works were rarely recorded. ... Thus, intermingling the old and the new in a compilation format is an intelligent choice [and]
when such carefully chosen works are played and produced as well as the pieces on Perspectives, we have a recording with wide appeal and one
that deserves commercial success.
From a review by George Henderson for the IAWM Journal 26, no. 2 (Fall 2020): 35–36.
Sezonu Statni opery zahajil koncert z cyklu Musica non grata
Pod taktovkou nemeckeho dirigenta Karla-Heinze Steffense vecer zahajil Koncert pro klavir a orchestr d moll, op. 7 Vitezslavy Kapralove, ktery,
prestoze byl autorcinou absolventskou kompozici na konzervatori, pusobi jako vyzrale a misty velice originalni dilo. Snad nejpusobiveji vyzniva
druha veta, ktera, jak velice priznacne popisuje Ondrej Hucin, „polyfonnim zpusobem zpracovava tezkomyslne a ovsem take janackovsky robustne znejici
ustredni tema“, tahnouci se celou touto casti. I v nedeli jsme tuto napjatou az mystickou atmosferu mohli do jiste miry pocitit v interpretaci solistky Alice Rajnohove,
ktera se klavirnim dilem Vitezslavy Kapralove zabyva dlouhodobe. Jiste by se nasel zpusob, jak nektera mista uhozem vice odlisit, aby se tak stalo barevne spektrum,
ktere tato skladba rozkryva, ruznorodejsi a zajimavejsi, ale jinak nelze klavirni interpretaci po technicke strance temer nic vytknout. Naopak upoutala svou lehkosti
a jemnocitem, který vsak nerozbredl v romantizujici „sladkobol“. Orchestr Statni opery byl pak Alici Rajnohove vice nez dustojnym partnerem (napr. orchestralni
zacatek jiz zminene druhe vety byl primo mrazici), ktery se se svym „drahym protejskem“ sice místy hadal (drobne rytmicke nesrovnalosti mezi klavirem a orchestrem
jsme mohli pozorovat hlavne ve treti vete), ale ke konecnému rozchodu nastesti nikdy nedoslo.
From a review by Katerina Pincova for Opera Plus, 1. 9. 2020.
Statni opera zahajila sezonu bez opery. Ale vydarene.
Dramaturgicky atraktivni program koncertu, jehoz hlavnim protagonistou byl Orchestr Statni opery s dirigentem Karl-Heinzem Steffensem,
nabidl dila tri autoru: Vitezslavy Kapralove, Alexandra Zemlinskeho a Bohuslava Martinu. Jako prvni cislo vecera zaznel Klavirni koncert d moll op. 7
Vitezslavy Kapralove. Soloveho partu se ujala Alice Rajnohova, ktera ma s klavirnim dilem Kapralove bohate zkusenosti – mimo jine [ji Radioservis vydal] v roce 2011
skvele CD se skladatelcinymi stezejnimi klavirními kompozicemi, a to vcetne Klavirniho koncertu. Ze hry Alice Rajnohove bylo zjevne, ze ma skladbu dokonale zazitou.
V rachmaninovsky rozmachle prvni vete jsem ocenil pianistcinu velkorysou, malem az „chlapskou“ techniku i nadhled pri praci s casem, ale zároven jsem se take nemohl
zbavit dojmu, že na nahravce je tato veta spontannejsi a svezejsi. Volnou vetu hrala umelkyne velmi odusevnele a s nemensim nadhledem než vetu prvni.
Na zacatku prokofjevovske finalni vety jsem mel znovu chvili pocit, ze na nahravce znela jiskriveji, ale behem nekolika taktu jako by pianistka i orchestr chytily
„druhy dech“: hudebni tok se rozzaril, pricemz jej umelkyne navic v nekolika mistech ozivila rozkosnymi jazzovými momenty.
From a review by Veroslav Nemec for Harmonie, 1. 9. 2020.
Kapralova: Complete Piano Music. Giorgio Koukl. Grand Piano (Naxos), 2017.
This album marks the first complete recordings of Kapralova’s solo piano works by the Czech pianist
Giorgio Koukl. His technique is so pristine that a listener quickly takes it for granted, and after
hearing him, what one remembers most of all is his sheer musicality! His sense of touch, articulation,
phrasing, and use of tone colors and vast contrast in dynamics are remarkable. Of course, a great deal of
the credit goes to Kapralova – her exquisitely crafted music displays unique qualities and innovative
technical devices well beyond the years and experience normally attributed to someone of her age.
In addition to the artistry of Giorgio Koukl, tremendous praise also goes to the recording engineers,
Dag Helseth and Michael Rast. The recording quality is truly exceptional – the Steinway Grand Piano Model
D is expertly captured in the Conservatorio Lugano – enabling the listener to further experience the
subtle nuances so masterfully performed by Koukl. In fact, this disc reveals musical depths to an extent
rarely encountered in recordings of solo piano music.
Special thanks to Karla Hartl and The Kapralova Society for their assistance to this recording project, and in making much of Kapralováa’s previously unpublished music available.
From a review by Chris A. Trotman for Kapralova Society Journal 18, no. 2 (Summer 2020): 12.
Forever Kapralova. Vitezslava Kapralova: Songs. Dana Buresova, soprano, Timothy Cheek, piano, members of the Harold Quartet, Magda Caslavova, flute.
Supraphon SU 3752-2 231 (2003). With a 73-page booklet in English, German, French and Czech.
Forever Kapralova is a more-or-less complete collection of Kapralova’s art songs, and, like Giorgio Koukl’s album of the complete piano music,
causes us to wonder if another composer has stood the test of complete collections of their work so well, and especially complete collections of such early work. [...]
Many of Kapralova’s songs are autobiographical; she may not have written these poems, but her selection of them often seems transparent when we refer to her timeline;
the songs that result express how she feels about family, friends, lovers, mortality and her country, as well as representing aspects of her native environment, so clearly that we can follow her
as if watching a film or reading a book.
Kapralova generously wrote most of her songs in a register allowing them to be performed by a range of voice types, so we can look forward to recordings that will provide significantly
different versions of them. Nevertheless, the Forever Kapralova performances are complete, sensitively rendered, and often feel inspired. Timothy Cheek’s pianism and dedication in bringing this project to us is exemplary;
Dana Buresova sings with perfect control and a clear voice. We know we are hearing the songs performed by people who understand every note of them. [...]
Until the 20th century, female composers were rarely heard, and the 20th century female composer still suffers a disadvantage in terms of the performance, recording and broadcast of her work.
From Kapralova we have a body of art that is, by design as well as tragic necessity, concentrated; art that solves the problems of its time so well that it seldom reveals their difficulty directly;
art that is often enjoyable at that level of musical appreciation that requires least study; and art that is nonetheless deeply personal, intricately musical, and strongly connected to the themes of its author’s
Vitezslava Kapralova’s love of song and poetry, as well as her unusual ability to express self-awareness through her piano writing, supplied her with a medium well capable of preserving
her brilliance within the short time she was granted on Earth.
From a review by George Henderson for Kapralova Society Journal 18, no. 2 (Summer 2020): 16–17.
Damy vzdaly hold skladatelce Kapralove. Z korespondence cetla Tatjana Medvecka.
Program jednoho z prvních koncertnich veceru po koronavirove pauze nabidl v ceskolipskem Jiraskove divadle poctu neobycejne skladatelske a dirigentske osobnosti, jejiz jmeno je dnes nepravem opomijeno.
Neobycejne niterny, zavazny vecer sklidil nadsene prijeti dychtiveho publika.
From a review by Lucie Johanovska for Ceskolipsky denik, May 25, 2020.
Kouzelny les, klavirni koncert a dramaticka symfonie.
Symfonicky orchestr ceskeho rozhlasu si pro svuj koncert v Rudolfinu 17. unora 2020 pripravil ruznorody a znacne
atraktivni program. [...] Po d'Indyho Kouzelnem lese zaznel Klavirni koncert d moll op. 7 Vitezslavy Kapralove. Mlada
skladatelka jim uzavrela v roce 1935 sva studia na brnenske konzervatori. Nelehkeho, ale velice efektniho soloveho partu
se ujal sedmadvacetilety Marek Kozak, jeden z nasich nejnadejnejsich mladych pianistu. Prestože hral toto dilo poprve,
prednesl jej se suverenitou zkuseneho mistra. Jeho nastrojova technika je uzasna a jeho muzikalni citeni dozralo v
posledni dobe k osobitemu a zcela presvedcivemu vyrazu. Mladistve svezi krajni vety koncertu jiskrily nespoctem
pianistickych efektu jako ohnostroj, potemnela volna veta okouzlila hloubkou vyrazu. A nad tim vsim – jako sympaticky
bonus – bylo mozno videt, že Marka Kozaka opravdu tesi hrat na klavir. Nemensi chvalu si zaslouzi i orchestr a dirigent,
kteri byli solistovi vstricnymi a inspirovanymi partnery a dokazali z barvite partitury vytezit maximum.
From a review by Veroslav Nemec for Harmonie Online, 19. 2. 2020.
PERSPECTIVES. Reena Esmail: Jhula-Jhule. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Episodes: I. Arioso. II. Vivace. Vitezslava Kapralova: Legenda. Jung Sun Kang: Star-Crossed. ChihChun Chi-Sun Lee:
Provintia “Sunset of Chihkan Tower.” Florence Price: Deserted Garden. Elfentanz. Lili Boulanger: Nocturne. Vivian Fine: Portal. Amy Beach: Romance / Dawn Wohn, violin. Esther Park, piano / Delos DE 3547, compact disc.
Issued on the Delos label, this recording represents an enviable collection of music from women composers ranging from a romantic character piece by Boston legend Amy Beach to a new work commissioned
for the collaboration by Jung Sun Kang. The selections are carefully chosen for the chamber alliance of Dawn Wohn, violin, and Esther Park, piano. Several common threads unite various of these selections,
ranging from cross-cultural references to familiar childhood experiences. As a result, the recording captures the beauty of folk traditions from India, Korea, and China,
the sounds of Impressionism and African-American spirituals, and the familiarity of Romanticism paired with the excitement and unpredictability of the Modern Era.
To achieve such a diverse offering, nine composers are featured, each contributing to the history of chamber music in an equally diverse and attractive manner. [...]
The fleeting career of Vitezslava Kapralova (1915–1940) is sprinkled throughout with the names of renowned Czech artists with whom she associated, studied, and worked.
Two deserve special mention: Leos Janacek, with whom her father, composer Vaclav Kapral, studied and Bohuslav Martinu, from whom Kapralova herself learned.
Recognized as a prodigy whose brilliant future was cut unmercifully short, she nevertheless amassed an enviable catalogue of works in various genres. Legenda, written in 1932
when she was only seventeen and a student at the Brno Conservatory, was her first work for violin and piano.
The work captures Kapralova’s lyricism, which she achieved with the repetition of short motives that are then spun out into swirling melodic elegance. A brief section of lively rhythmic dialogue between the violin and piano
thrusts itself into the lyrical canvas, loses its momentum, and is ultimately overtaken by familiar passages of motivic development. It is pure Kapralova and a preview of the delightful chamber works and sheer beauty
yet to come from the pen of this talented artist. [...]
The diversity in styles of the works on this recording mirrors the diversity of the composers themselves. While part of the purpose of the recording is to bring together
the voices of women artists, to view this collection only in these terms is to do it a disservice. The level of variety in the selections is not only greatly attractive
but also emphasizes stylistic and cultural differences in the best way. The works that seek to combine Eastern and Western musical materials and programmatic sources are especially gratifying.
Nevertheless, all of the compositions featured are necessary to allow the listener to fully appreciate the high level of artistry of the Wohn-Park Duo.
From a review by Judith Mabary for Kapralova Society Journal 18, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 14–15.