Let's not indulge in contortions to try to bridge the variety in this disc. Just accept it as a very varied feast of stimulatingly contrasted repertoire.
Beethoven's First is finely pointed and sturdily delineated. It's given an incisive and flowing reading keeping in touch with forebears in the Haydn and Mozart symphonies. Everything breathes the open air. Links with works such as the Fourth and Sixth symphonies are allowed to unfurl naturally. A very lucid performance.
The Martinu Oboe Concerto is a late work written in the same year as The Epic of Gilgamesh
but very different from that visionary cantata. The Concerto is touched with the tar of the neo-classical 1920s but the dominance is accorded to the sweetly rounded troubadour romance of the later works such as the Third and Fourth symphonies. It's graciously done and Vilem Veverka bids fair to challenge Frantisek Hantak's classic 1962 recording. The finale bubbles with the innocent pastoral vitality of Canteloube's orchestrations of the Auvergne songs.
Kabelac is known primarily as a symphonist although his two gritty works The Mystery of Time and Hamlet Improvisation (both recorded by Supraphon
) are also estimable and sometimes forbidding pieces. The Fourth Symphony was written for the conductorless orchestra the Prague Chamber Orchestra who also premiered it and gave the world's first recording. The hardbitten determined first movement is a Grave
with an indomitable Shostakovich-like forward pulse and a magnetic pull toward tragedy. This contrasts with a busy and antiphonally echoing Presto
. After this effervescence we come to a depressive Lento
from which vivid colours have been leached. Themes and colours conspire to achieve complete consistency of statement and atmosphere. The finale is a whirling dance but its Kodaly-Rozsa style exuberance is shot through with a ruthless impulse and crushing energy.
It would be good to have a complete Kabelac disc from Arco Diva – perhaps next time. There are plenty of major works from which to choose many never previously recorded. See list drawn from Wikipedia.
Arco Diva have another triumph to add to their catalogue in this very varied feast of stimulating and accomplished musicmaking.
Symphonies of Kabelac
Symphony No. 1 in D for strings and percussions, op.11 (1941 – 1942)
Symphony No. 2 in C for large orchestra, op. 15 (1942 – 1946)
Symphony No. 3 in F for organ, brasses and timpani, op. 33 (1948 – 1957)
Symphony No. 4 in A. "Chamber Symphony", op. 36 (1954 – 1958)
Symphony No. 5 in B flat minor, "Dramatic", for soprano without text, and orchestra, op. 41 (1960)
Symphony No. 6 "Concertante", for clarinet and orchestra, op. 44 (1961 – 1962)
Symphony No. 7 for orchestra and reciter on the composer s text after the Bible, op. 52 (1967 – 1968)
Symphony No. 8 "Antiphonies", for soprano, mixed choir, percussions and organ, on the words from the Bible, op. 54 (1970)
Further orchestral works of Kabelac
Overture No. 2 for large orchestra, op. 17 (1947)
Childish Moods. Little orchestral suite, op. 22 (1955)
Suite from the music to Sophokles Electra for alto, female choir and orchestra, op. 28a (1956)
Mystery of Time, Passacaglia for large orchestra, op. 31 (1953 – 1957)
Three Melodramas to accompany the play Kuo Mo-jo "Master of Nine Songs" for reciter and chamber orchestra, op. 34b (1957)
Hamlet Improvisation for large orchestra, op. 46 (1962 – 1963)
Reflections. Nine miniatures for orchestra, op. 49 (1963 – 1964)
Metamorphoses II, for piano and orchestra, op. 58 (1979)