comes as a very valuable addition to the select Kaprálová discography.
Tragically short-lived though she was, the Moravian composer
left behind more than mere markers of potential greatness.
There are important and thoroughly convincing things even
in her least well-known works.
found a champion
in her fellow Moravian, Rudolf Firkušný. The four pieces,
written in 1937, embrace late impressionist fanfares
and driving drama with equal aplomb. The second Prelude
is animated by powerful left hand figures and has a slightly
crepuscular feel. The right hand meanwhile unleashes
some unmistakably Czech folkloric cadences. There’s a
wintry, brusque end to this prelude. The final one is
Legend for violin and piano is a resilient example of Franco-Delian
inspiration whilst Burlesque, written at the same time
and sharing an opus number, is a whimsical affair. I’ve
not pursued the matter but perhaps these were the inner
movements – andante and scherzo – from a projected violin
earliest work here is the Op.1 Five Compositions for Piano,
written in 1931-32. These contrast powerful, confident
projection with correspondingly limpid simplicity. The
Minuet is full of optimism whilst the last of the five
has more than a hint of Ježek’s lyric confidence about
The “late” 1939
Elegy is a high-wire Szymanowskian balancing act, pushing
the violin up high. Whereas the Sonata Appassionata
cut from different cloth. Written six years earlier it
opens in a flurry of passion but has clearly absorbed much
from the French school in its busy but unclotted clarity.
The variations are brittle, sonorous, emphatic and graced
with a perky fugato; the conclusion is suitably grand.
It’s a work of veritable confidence.
of variations we also have the Variations sur le Carillon
de l'Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont
a sparkling evocation
replete with bell chimes, a touching but not somnolent
chorale and an insouciant rather Gallic Allegro finale.
Finally there’s Little Song
for solo piano – which
I was expecting to find post-Suk in its insinuating lyricism
but which is actually rather perky.
performances of this too-little known music are terrifically
engaging. The notes by Karla Hartl are just right as well.
Add this to your select discography of a composer whose
early death deprived Czechoslovakia of a burgeoning talent.
see also review by Rob Barnett