I Am Waiting For You – Janácek Inspirations
Marketa DVORAKOVA (b.1977) Cekam Te (I Am Waiting For You), for string quartet (2008) [10:06]
Katerina RUZICKOVA (b.1972) Cekam Te! (I am awaiting you!) for mezzo, xylophone, and string quartet (2008) [9:24]
Petra GAVLASOVA (b.1976) Mezi cekanim (Between waiting), for string quartet and electronics (2008) [13:30]
Jana BARINKOVA (b.1981) "... a ja vim, ze prijdes..." (...and I know that you will come...), for vibraphone and string quartet (2008) [11:14]
Lenka KILIC (b.1971) Nejpeknejsi andel (The Fairest of Angels), for mezzo, xylophone, and string quartet (2008) [19:31]
Lucie Slepankova (voice); Martin Oprsal (vibraphone; xylophone); Kapralova Quartet (Veronike Panochova (violin 1); Simona Hurnikova (violin 1); Karolina Strasilova (viola); Simona Hecova (cello))
rec. December 2009 Studio, Czech Radio Brno. DDD
This project was financially assisted by the Czech Ministry of Culture, The Kapralova Society, and HUDBABY
HUDBABY 2 CR0481-2 [64:12]

Hudbaby is a group of composers linked by the Janácek Academy in Brno and formed in 1997. They work together though geographically widely scattered. They represent a voice quite other than that spoken by Sylvie Bodorova and those clustered around her on the Arco Diva label. This makes for a tougher listen but one that is just as subtle and as engaging.

The present collection is themed around Janácek's words which appear on the score of the 1928 album for the love of his last decade Kamila Stosslova. The words are Cekamte (I am awaiting you).

Dvorakova, whose Cekam Te for string quartet is featured, studied piano and composition at the Academy. The concise four movement work is fascinating and most beautifully performed and recorded. The idiom comprises spare textures and great transparency all filtered through the language of Schoenberg and 1960s Penderecki. The violins moan, buzz and evoke contemplative sirens. In the finale whale-song is counterpointed with glassy pizzicato.

Ruzickova's Cekam Te! is less avant-garde. It's a delightfully haunting work that is constantly challenging in its juxtapositions and material. It buzzes with sharp-etched rhythmic ideas which are often of Bartókian caste. The vocalist speaks the words Cekam Te at the end but before that sings lines from the Latin mass.

The Gavlasova piece is a varied journey for string quartet and electronics. The latter seem to me to be a manipulation, sometimes quite radical, of the sound of quartet. Janácek's folksy material is woven through the piece as at 7:14 onwards. At others a gleaming brilliance is expressed through breathy harmonics, pizzicato reports, rustling and chesty ostinati. Warbling strings then begin to plink-skitter and scutter. A nocturnal lunar landscape is evoked but in a lyrical way not felt in the other two works.

Barinkova's .. and I know you will come .... starts with a barely heard breathing motion in high notes from the violins. There are minimalist elements to this piece for quartet and vibraphone. There’s also dissonance to be heard in the slow slaloming string harmonics. The vibraphone takes centre-stage only very sparingly. At the end the skies are empty.

Lenka Kilc's The Fairest of Angels is the longest piece here. It is in six movements named after the five women in Janacek's life - the finale being Epilog Leos. This is also the most directly lyrical of the five works here. Zdenka is purely instrumental and speaks of the first years of marriage. Olga is the daughter who died. The xylophone suggests in macabre style the skeletal death of Olga; the singing has now passed away. The singing of the mezzo entails much sighing, various brands of sprechgesang, speaking and lyrical technique. The Epilogue progresses through chesty and brutal Bartokian expression, with a skittering ppp violins subgroup, to a breathing and touchingly lyrical farewell. This is intoned by the violins in the lead position.

Rob Barnett

A tough but subtle and engaging listen.