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KAPRÁLOVÁ, Vítezslava (1915-1940)

COMPLETE PIANO MUSIC


  • Giorgio Koukl, piano

Despite her tragically brief life, Vítezslava Kaprálová is now considered the most important female Czech composer of the 20th century, her prolific output abundant with fresh and bold ideas, passion, tenderness and youthful energy. This in-depth exploration, representing some of the very best of her music, includes early gems such as the April Preludes, the exquisite and sophisticated Variations, the remarkable Sonata appassionata and her final Dance for piano, reconstructed by Giorgio Koukl from its only surviving sketch.

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Tracklist

 
Sonata Appasionata, Op. 6 (1933) (00:18:45 )
1
I. Maestoso. Appassionato (00:07:58)
2
II. Theme and variations: Theme: Andante semplice (00:00:35)
3
II. Theme and variations: Variation 1: Più mosso (00:00:35)
4
II. Theme and variations: Variation 2: Scherzando (00:00:30)
5
II. Theme and variations: Variation 3: Con moto (00:01:07)
6
II. Theme and variations: Variation 4: Vivace (00:01:03)
7
II. Theme and variations: Variation 5: Largo (00:01:38)
8
II. Theme and variations: Variation 6: Vivo (00:05:19)
9
Praeludium, Op. 9, No. 1 (1935) (00:04:39)
10
Crab Canon, Op. 9, No. 2 (1935) (00:01:44)
11
Grotesque Passacaglia (1935) (00:02:34)
 
5 Piano Compositions (1932) (00:12:07 )
12
No. 1. Maestoso (00:01:30)
13
No. 2. Cantabile-moderato (00:01:08)
14
No. 3. Andante con moto (00:01:31)
15
No. 4. Tempo di menuetto (00:02:43)
16
No. 5. Alla marcia funebre (00:06:15)
 
Dubnová Preludia (April Preludes), Op. 13 () (00:09:00 )
17
No. 1. Allegro ma non troppo (00:02:08)
18
No. 2. Andante (00:03:08)
19
No. 3. Andante semplice (00:01:42)
20
No. 4. Vivo (00:02:08)
 
Variations sur le Carillon de l'Église St-Étienne-du-Mont, Op. 16 (1938) (00:07:59 )
21
Theme - Variation 1: Poco vivo (00:01:38)
22
Variation 2: Allegretto (00:00:36)
23
Variation 3: Lento, ma non troppo (00:01:08)
24
Variation 4: Quasi etude-vivo (00:00:45)
25
Variation 5: Choral (00:01:34)
26
Variation 6: Allegro e coda (00:02:18)
27
2 Dances for Piano, Op. 23: No. 1 (reconstructed by G. Koukl) (1940) * (00:03:11)
 
2 Kytičky (2 Bouquets of Flowers) (1935) (00:01:36 )
28
No. 1. Kytička fialek (Small Bouquet of Violets) * (00:00:41)
29
No. 2. Podzimní listí (Autumn Leaves) * (00:00:55)
30
Písnička (Little Song) (1936) (00:01:18)
31
Ostinato Fox (1937) * (00:01:06)
32
Slavnostní Fanfára (Festive Fanfare) (1940) * (00:00:24)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:05:29

The Artist

Giorgio Koukl is a pianist/harpsichordist and composer. He was born in Prague in 1953, and studied there at the State Music School and Conservatory. He continued his studies at both the Conservatories of Zürich and Milan, where he took part in the masterclasses of Nikita Magaloff, Jacques Février, and Stanislaus Neuhaus, and with Rudolf Firkušný, friend and advocate of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů.

The Composer

The brief but intense life of Czech composer and conductor Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915–1940) was set between the two world wars in the period of the First Czechoslovak Republic to whose modernist movement she belonged. Kaprálová’s creative development began in her hometown of Brno, stimulated first by the cultured environment of her own family and its circle of friends, among whom were some of the finest musicians and music scholars of the new republic. Her natural talent was recognized early and nurtured by her parents who both played an important role in Kaprálová’s early musical development. Her mother Vítězslava, born Uhlířová (1890–1973), was a qualified voice teacher; her father, Václav Kaprál (1889–1947), was a composer (a pupil of Leoš Janáček), teacher, pianist, choirmaster and music editor. The city’s conservatory, where young Kaprálová pursued a double major in composition and conducting from 1930–1935, provided a solid foundation for her education, which was further advanced by her studies under composer Vítězslav Novák and conductor Václav Talich at the Prague Conservatory from 1935–1937. Following her graduation from the conservatory’s Master School in 1937 and aided by a French government scholarship, Kaprálová moved to Paris, where she continued her studies in conducting with Charles Munch at the École normale de musique, while also taking private lessons in composition with Paris-based Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů. Martinů’s often cited influence on Kaprálová’s musical development is overestimated, however, for the music of Igor Stravinsky and her father in particular exerted as strong an influence on the young composer. There is no doubt that when Kaprálová died in 1940, possibly from typhoid fever, just two months after marrying Alphonse Mucha’s son, the world of classical music was robbed of a burgeoning talent and a highly individual voice.

Like her composer father, Kaprálová was drawn to piano as her natural instrument, and piano compositions are well represented in her relatively large creative output that includes about fifty compositions. Piano also played a crucial role in her music as a compositional tool with which she experimented in both smaller and larger forms. It is therefore not surprising that her most original and sophisticated works are for this instrument: from her Sonata appassionata and Piano Concerto in D Minor to April Preludes and Variations sur le carillon de l’église St.-Etienne-du-Mont (and the Martinů–influenced, neoclassical Partita in which piano also plays an important percussive role). Piano compositions arguably represent the best of Kaprálová’s music which abounds in fresh and bold ideas, humour, passion and tenderness, and is imbued with youthful energy.

Reviews

Ritmo

“[Kapralova’s] music moves between neoclassicism and modernism, characteristic of the interwar period, always with an original freshness… Giorgio Koukl presents these with pieces with his usual effectiveness.” – Ritmo

“…[this CD] is up to the permanent high standards of the Grand Piano label and the performances and interpretations are exemplary. …this maybe repertoire virtually unknown but what a treat it is and is utterly impossible not to recommend it wholeheartedly.” – Dvorák Society Newsletter

Musical Toronto

“Giorgio Koukl’s chronicle of [Kaprálová’s] life at the piano provides compelling listening.” – Musical Toronto

“a thoroughly fascinating disc and a great introduction to a composer who definitely deserves to be better known.” – The Art Music Lounge

“It is good to see pianists of the stature of Giorgio Koukl putting out to largely uncharted waters. …The results in this first account of Kaprálová’s complete piano music are stirringly impressive… ” – MusicWeb International

“…a fabulous, thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating disc of truly inspirational music.” – MusicWeb International