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Imp in Impulse
Pascal LE BOEUF (b.1986)

Imp in Impulse (2018) [12:14]
Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997)
Theme with eight variations for solo violin (1980) [14:06]
Klement SLAVICKÝ (1910-1999)
Partita for solo violin (1963) [20:01]
Barbora Kolářová (violin)
Recording details not provided

Barbora Kolářová has selected three out-of-the-way solo violin works for this disc. The earliest is Klement Slavický’s Partita of 1963, its title an overt homage to Bach’s own solo violin compositions and cast in five movements. Its expressive range is wide, from quasi-improvisational across-the-barline freedom to far terser statements couched in an occasionally challenging but always approachable language. The inbuilt ornamentation and resinous drive of the music does allow for more introspective passages, shelter from the storm, and an opportunity for a kind of internal dialogue in which pizzicati and lyric lines encode a kind of musical characterisation. Slavický also makes use of slides, repeats and frenetic drama to build up a formidable work that might remind one of his Rhapsody for solo viola. He was an especially fine composer for solo strings, and this is a fine reading of the Partita.

Characterisation and concision are hallmarks of Françaix’s witty Theme with Eight Variations (1980). The con spirito theme is the essence of geniality and the succeeding variations explore a crisp and poetic array of developmental opportunities. There’s certainly a Paganinian Caprice element involved – he even manages to replicate the famous insouciant laugh that Paganini enjoyed employing, though even Françaix doesn’t go for the Paganini-Sarasate jaunty whistle in harmonics. His pizzicati, unlike Slavicky’s combative examples, are more poetically inclined, and with crisp bowing, Kolářová shows she is fully on top of the piece.

American composer Pascal Le Boeuf wrote Imp in Impulse for Kolářová. It is indeed an impish work, juxtaposing elements to joyful effect and full of vernacular rhythmic swing, though without being jazzy. There are plenty of coloristic moments, a range of dynamics and attacks and some splendid movement titles (‘Tomato Caprice’ anyone?). This drolly-named movement sees a bit of Kroll-derived Banjo and Fiddle though there are scrunchy, drone-like passages too. There are more archaic elements in the Perverse Chaconne – the title presumably relates to Poe’s The Imp of the Perverse cited in the booklet notes. In any case it has a slow-drawn but compelling motion. Let’s hope fiddlers take up this often-ingenious piece. They could hardly have a better role model than the Czech violinist.

This well recorded, vitalising disc has only one drawback, which is a playing time of 46 minutes. Fine for an LP but maybe another piece would have been appropriate to tempt the listener still further.

Jonathan Woolf

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