Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Vítěslava KAPRÁLOVÁ (1915-1940)

Two Songs Op. 4 (1932) Op. 4 [5.02]
Sparks from ashes Op. 5 (1932-33) [12.20]
January for voice, piano, flute, two violins and cello (1933) [4.25]
Apple from the Lap Op. 10 (1934-36) [8.53]
Forever Op. 12 (1936-37) [7.43]
Waving Farewell Op. 14 (1937) [6.07]
Carol (1937) [0.50]
Christmas Carol (1939) [1.13]
Seconds Op. 18 (1936-39) [13.16]
Sung into the distance Op. 22 (1939) [6.48]
Letter (1940) [2.28]
Dana Burešová (sop)
Timothy Cheek (piano)
Magda Časlavová (flute)

Petr Zdvihal (violin)
Jan Valta (violin)
David Havelík (cello)
rec. 13-20 July 2003, Domovina Studio, Prague. DDD
SUPRAPHON SU3752-2 231 [70.13]

Further Information on Kaprálová:

In one fell and gorgeous swoop Supraphon double the amount of Kaprálová in the catalogue. The other landmark collection is the admirable disc from Studio Matous (MK 0049-2 011 - reviewed elsewhere on this site) who can be said to be the main progenitors of Kaprálová's exposure on disc.

This is a winner - and very hot off the press too. Whenever you receive a disc like this with one singer you wonder whether this is to be another example of vibrato-blurred and smudged Slavonic 'style'. Not a bit of it. Burešová is steady in tonal emission despite the demanding and exposed writing. Admirable clarity, freshness and intelligent engagement with the words are the hallmarks of her wonderful singing. These qualities serve the music very well indeed. Burešová’s voice reminded me of that of Susan Hamilton on the Delphian CD of the songs of Ronald Stevenson.

Here are all but five of the songs written by Kaprálová. During her short life (she died of TB in Montpellier at the age of 25) she had an impressive range of teachers: Martinů, Chalabala, Munch, Talich, Novák and Boulanger. Her April Preludes were written for Firkusný. She conducted her Military Sinfonietta in Prague with the Czech Phil and in London with the BBC Orchestra.

Songs recur as a constant throughout her life. They are consonant with her tendency towards concise musical expression - intense through its very concentration. First impressions indicate a decidedly Gallic-ecstatic style. In the cycle Sparks from the ashes the French ‘voice’ is married with the archaic mysticism of Warlock's Frostbound Wood. The songs are heavy with the scents and sense of love, of melancholy, death and longing. A dreaminess rises like incense from this music - not as sensually dense as Szymanowski or Sorabji but broadly related in mood. In the years are silent (tr.24) a hooded tone is foremost. In the first song of the cycle Apples from the lap it is Vaughan Williams' Bredon bells that ring out. The sloe-eyed smile and lulling pulse returns for Lullaby reminding me of Poulenc's famous hotel. A related setting, yet even more memorable, is the first song from Forever with its piano trilling and rocking transverse movement. The first really playful song is Spring Fair, the last entry in the Op. 10 collection. This is paralleled by Hands in which the piano seems to mimic a delightful babbling brook. Darker thoughts dominate the solo piano interlude set amidst the Op. 18 collection. Orthodox chant passes cloud-like over the writing in My dear one.

I have my doubts about one facet of the packaging. The 75 page booklet (superbly presented by the way) and the CD case fit into one of those slip-through presentation sleeves. At present the sleeve holds the two items firmly but in the long term ...?

The insert notes are by the sensitive and thoughtful pianist Timothy Cheek. Full texts and side-by-side translations into English, German and French are given. Congratulations to Supraphon for opting for a good size font.

Let us hope that soon we will see similar serious treatment for the music of British women of the same or adjacent generations: Lilian Elkingon, Dorothy Howell, Susan Spain-Dunk and Jane Joseph.

If you have a taste for the French school of chanson represented by Duparc, Poulenc and Fauré in mesmeric, dreamy and expressive mode this disc needs to be on your Christmas list. Well done Supraphon and the Kaprálová Society. I hope that there will be more.

Rob Barnett


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