Tucapsky was born not
far from Brno during the inter-war years and it was at Brno that he
studied. One of his teachers was Jan Kunc, himself a pupil of Janáček
and Novák. When in 1972 he met and married the English soprano
Beryl Musgrave, professional life in Czechoslovakia became impossible
such was the political environment. The couple moved to London in 1975.
His compositions (many choral items) have been published by Thames since
then. Somm have also taken up his cause with various choral recordings
You might well know Tucapsky's name from his prodigious
choral output but as this disc confirms he is by no means an exclusively
choral practitioner. We need to watch his name and music as closely
as we should have watched that of Hans Gál, Roberto Gerhard,
Berthold Goldschmidt and Karl Rankl - not that his music can be likened
to any of these composers; certainly they do not form any 'school'.
The Violin Concerto was not written to commission.
Tucapsky stands clear of the neo-classical stream unlike his compatriot
Ondrej Kukal whose violin concerto (Panton) I recall reviewing
a couple of years back. Tucapsky takes the way of knowing fantasy.
This is music for grown-ups; not hard-going in the avant-garde or atonal
senses - it is rather an extension of Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto
melded with quasi-exotic streams from Szymanowski and Miklós
Rózsa. Tucapsky scales touching nostalgic heights in the adagio
serio. The solo part is extremely virtuosic with some delightful
'neighing' effects. Fairytale fantasy is the order of the day.
The Viola Concerto was written at the request
of Martin Outram, principal viola of Ronald Corp's New London Orchestra.
Tucapsky has been much associated with both Corp and this orchestra.
The work has the brightness of the Violin Concerto and some of its mannerisms.
The viola is in an almost incessant spate of song. The invaluable notes
by Somm regular, Graham Melville-Mason, tell us that the second movement
carries inflections of sorrow and nostalgia following the split of the
Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. It is the most sustained emotional
statement on the disc. The helter-skelter switchback finale illustrates
Tucapsky's brilliant way with the percussion - something also evident
in the Violin Concerto. This movement also carries the legacy of the
andante in its great swooning violin
slides (1.43). It ends in a warmly bathed hymnal of jubilation - a Martinů-like
joyous glow. Wonderful stuff.
I will now be on the lookout for his Rondo for
horn and strings (1953), Fantasia quasi una sonata for piano
(1982), Concertino for piano and strings (1991), the oratorio
Stabat Mater (1989), cantata Mary Magdalene (1991)
and his sole opera The Undertaker (a Pushkin story) (1988 and
premiered in London in 1993).
This is a covetable CD - the sort of disc which makes
reviewing 'peripheral' repertoire a joy. With its nostalgia and surreal
fantasy I shall be returning to these concertos again.