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
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.
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.