is the name of a group of composers
formed at the Janáček Academy of
Performing Arts (Brno, Czech Republic)
in 1997. ‘Hudba’ is the Czech word for
music while ‘Baby’ is a colloquialism
for women (not in the sense of the Americanism).
All members of the group are represented
on this disc except, it would seem,
for Marcela Trtková-Vocílková.
The group unveiled itself to the world
in the 1998 Moravian Autumn International
Music Festival – for further information,
click here (http://www.kapralova.org.hudbaby.htm
first work we hear is that of Kateřina
), a Romance in two movements
for piano. The first movement contains
both reflective and manic elements,
the latter with minimalist leanings.
The minimalisms seem to sit on the cusp
obvious influence (Janáček’s obsessive
cell-repetitions) and a more States-side
minimalist (Glass, Reich and the like).
The second movement (no tempo indications
are given) is more Bartókian, once more
with obsessive elements. The performance
is a skilled one (by Alice Rajnohová),
but the recording tends towards the
tinny. Definitely worth hearing, though.
Also by Rezizková is Kolem
nuly (‘Around Zero’). The composer
writes, ‘Around Zero is a critical
point where outwardly one still can’t
see anything, but under the surface
something is crystallising. It is also
at this moment when an idea is born
– the piquant boundary between contour
and shapelessness’. Skilfully written
for percussion, it is a sonic (gentle)
) contributes two works. First
up is Vedlejší pVíznaky
(‘Side Effects’) for percussion reveals
a wide-ranging imagination. Almost as
much as her note in the accompanying
booklet: ‘I took very free imagination
from stories by my great love Woody
Allen, and after briefly ‘examining
psychic phenomena’ I said to myself:
‘Yes, but can a steam engine do this’’.
My kind of sense of humour. ‘Side effects’,
Foltýnová says, ‘appear
sooner or later in all of us. Do I hear
a knocking at the door?’. More probably
one of your own percussion instruments,
I would have thought, but in the final
movement its more tapping than knocking.
second piece is the final one on the
disc, Safranbolu (at least no
translation needed this time, it’s the
name of the Turkish city that inspired
it. In particular it is that city’s
calmness and beauty that touched the
composer, and this eight-minute work
is indeed hypnotically gripping. It
is a perhaps unexpected way to close
the disc, but an undeniably effective
and haunting one. Long, yearning lines
predominate. It is very well played
by cellist Jiří Bárta.
Let mouchy (‘The Flight of the
Fly’) for cello and piano won first
prize in the ‘Generace’ composers’ competition
in 1999. Škrlová (http://www.kapralova.org/BARBARA.htm
) is a composer and music therapist.
Let mouchy is amusing in its
direct imitation of a fly by the cello
at the very opening, and Pavlina Jelínková-Hluchá
is a finely expressive cellist in the
longer legato lines. I found myself
wondering whether it had the legs to
last eight minutes at times, but it
is a well-crafted work.
to Markéta Dvořáková (http://www.kapralova.org/MARKETA.htm
)and her wonderfully titled Nezelený
muz (‘Ungreen Man’). If only the
text was replicated with a translation
(it is a translation into Czech by Ludvík
Kundera – father of the more famous
Milan - of a poem by Hans Arp called
‘Bei grünem Kiebe’). Without recourse
to text, it is a pleasure to report
that the piece works marvellously on
its own terms. I like the way Dvořáková
segments the words (‘vsichny’ at around
the five-minute mark), so we can luxuriate
in the sheer special sounds of
the Czech language.
A fascinating, memorable
disc that certainly merits investigation.