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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Or contact the pianist-producer:

tomas.visek@centrum.cz

 

 

 

Tomáš Víšek (piano)
Srdce na Vysočině
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Opening of the Wells (1955) [19.31] *
Adagio (1957) [2.49]
Vitěslav NOVÁK (1870-1949)
Máj (Intermezzo I) (1888) [11.43]
Václav KAPRÁL (1889-1947)
Nokturno (Concert Etude) [8.19]
Jaroslav KŘIČKA (1882-1969)
Veselé kousky (Joyful Pieces) Op.13 [12.18]
Vítěslava KAPRÁLOVÁ (1915-1940)
Groteskní passacgalia (Grotesque Passacaglia) [2.24]
Otakar ŠÍN (1881-1943)
Amoroso (Intimní nálady) Op.5/4 [7.20]
Jaroslav JEŽEK (1906-1942)
Když jsem kytici vázala (When I Bound the Bunch of Flowers) [2.56] 
Tomáš Víšek (piano)
Petr Matuszek (baritone)/Nadia Zakhourová (speaker)/Klára Kartáková (soprano), Markéta Dvořáková (mezzo), Jan Valta Jr and Eva Nováková (violins), Milan Líkař (viola)/Girls Students Choir of Teplice Conservatory/Jan Valta (conductor) – in the Opening of the Wells *
rec. June-July 2001, Concert Hall of Teplice Conservatory, Czech Republic
TOMÁS VÍŠEK TV 0002-2254 [67.30]

 

 

Tomáš Víšek has issued a number of self-produced CDs and they’re invariably chosen to reflect his wide interest in Czech music. This one is no exception inasmuch as he includes pieces that pay tribute to Vysočině in Bohemia and specifically the village of Tří Studnĕ where Vaclav Kaprál and his family lived. Kaprál is now better known for his daughter Vítěslava Kaprálová. He’s represented by the previously unrecorded Nokturno (Concert Etude) and she by the similarly unrecorded Groteskní passacgalia (Grotesque Passacaglia). Her teacher Novák contributes his 1888 Máj (Intermezzo I) in what is also claimed as a premiere recording – it’s certainly not to be confused with the 1899 Můj May. Of Martinů, naturally an important presence, more later.

Then there is Otakar Šin who was a friend of the Kaprál family and whose Amoroso is yet another first ever recording. This is an intensely lyric piece, increasingly strident and full of chordal power – almost gallantly powerful – and it could do with more performances. Jaroslav Ježek’s little popular song is a delight and reminds one of his dance band days – he’s included on the perhaps tenuous grounds that Kaprálová once tried to obtain a position as second conductor in Ježek’s Liberated Theatre. Tenuous maybe, but you can’t have enough Ježek, light or serious, and this pianist has made a strong case for Ježek’s music before on disc and in concert.

Jaroslav Křička was a contemporary of Kaprál, Martinů and of Sin. He was born in the vicinity of Tří Studnĕ - he was actually born in Maršovice - and returned there often. His Veselé kousky [Joyful Pieces] Op.13 are charming little character studies. The first is a halting little waltz, the second has perky drones and is a gracioso minuet. All very light hearted. Kaprálová’s Groteskní passacgalia is a wittily descriptive character piece that flashes by. Her father’s study – few will know he was a composer – is rooted in Liszt and a touch of Debussy. It’s a pity that this isn’t dated – in fact hardly anything seemingly can be dated with certainty – because it would be satisfying to know how early he came to impressionism. The arpeggios and rippling streams are very attractive but it does rather outstay its welcome.

Martinů is represented by his late Adagio (1957), a brief, chordal and rather Beethovenian piece, and by the Opening of the Wells. This is the anomalous piece, with Víšek joining colleagues for this chamber cantata. Those who know the Veselka/Supraphon performance will appreciate that this newcomer is slightly faster, though not appreciably so. It’s a pity that the expense of texts was too great because otherwise those who come fresh to this cantata will be at something of a loss. As for the work’s very real freshness and simplicity, well, that emerges intact once more. There’s great charm to this performance; baritone Petr Matuszek makes an impressive showing but all the performers do well, not least speaker Nadia Zakhourová and Tomáš Víšek himself in the important piano part. Pity it’s single-tracked though. 

Those seeking out the byways of the Czech pianistic muse will appreciate this release; the Kaprálová circle was an interesting one and there are some intriguing paths to be followed here – and don’t forget the many premiere recordings as well. Decent sound, splendid booklet photographs, rather concise notes.

Jonathan Woolf

AVAILABILITY

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