Czech violinist Tomáš Vinklát dedicates his disc to a great
compatriot and predecessor, Váša Príhoda (1900-60), the dashing
virtuoso who flourished in the pre-war years, faltered amidst
accusations of wartime fraternisation with the Germans, but
recovered in time for triumphant visits back to Prague. Fortunately
he made many recordings on 78, a number for Cetra in Italy on
LP, which I have reviewed here, and a tranche of largely German
radio broadcasts have survived and been released.
This hour-long recital isn’t slavish in its homage. Príhoda
didn’t record everything here, though he did record almost everything.
We can hear from the start that Vinklát is not interested in
aping Príhoda’s very particular style, and nor should he be.
No Príhoda studio performance of Hubay’s Hejre Kati
exists, so far as I’m aware, and Hubay, who made recordings,
didn’t set it down either. Vinklát, as he does throughout, proves
a clean-limbed, somewhat arms-length exponent. Elgar’s Salut
d’amour chugs away quite happily, making one wonder why
it’s credited to a Príhoda arrangement. Then we hear why: double-stops,
an interpolated cadential passage, changed note values and register
alteration too. The ethos is now ‘School of Raff’s Cavatina’.
Double-stopping his way through a piece was a staple for the
Czech fiddler who did the same sort of thing in his arrangement
of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. Príhoda recorded Salut
d’amour twice for Polydor, armed with resplendent portamenti
and ripe rubati at a slower tempo than Tomáš Vinklát and Martin
Fila. Príhoda’s double-stops are remarkably gulped and expressive.
Príhoda’s most famous arrangement was of the Rosenkavalier
Waltzes, and it’s probably the one piece of his editorial work
to have survived. Vinklát had to play it, naturally, and does
so attractively but the knowing, showy rubatos of the original
performer and his slyly capricious phrasing are not part of
the younger man’s arsenal. Sarasate wrote his Romanza Andaluza
for the Moravian violinist Wilma Norman-Neruda (1838-1911),
perhaps better known as Lady Halle. This decent performance
lacks the tonal vitality of Príhoda’s mid-30s disc, and I don’t
feel that Fila is terribly interested in the piano part. He
reminds me of the words of the critic who once said of a Gerald
Moore record that he sounded as if he were playing with a cigarette
dangling out of the side of his mouth.
Dvorák is the composer most closely associated with Príhoda.
His studio recording of the Concerto is still one of the greatest
ever committed to disc, but listening to his surviving examples
of both the Concerto and the Sonatina, which Vinklát plays,
it’s valuable to note just how eventfully changeable could be
the interpretations. Live, post-war, he could really speed up,
whether through nerves or a kind of showing-off I’m not quite
sure. He certainly speeded up in the first movement of the Sonatina
in his last 1956 Prague Spring appearance which was fortunately
taped. In his studio reading he’s a lot more reserved in the
first movement. Vinklát and Fila are not quite ‘risoluto’ enough
but they are tasteful exponents if rather expressively neutral
ones. Finally, we don’t hear much of Príhoda’s arrangement of
the slow movement of the New World Symphony. Here it
is for new generations.
The recording is just a touch expansive for my tastes. This
is a pleasing disc, though I wish the performers had been more
us financially by purchasing this disc
for £12 postage paid World-wide.