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CPO 555 568-2 (2024). Release date (hi-res): 15 April 2024, (CD): 29 April 2024. The double album is available from presto music, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, and other outlets. See this album trailer. Listen to it on Spotify.

Performers: Veronika Rovna (S), Tomas Vrana (pno), Janacek Philharmonic Ostrava, Alena Hron, conductor.

Recording Engineer: Jana Jelinkova
Recording Producer & Digital Editing: Pavel Kuncar
Executive Producer: Burkhard Schmilgun
Recorded May-June 2022 at the House of Culture, Ostrava, Czech Republic.

This double album presents all complete works for orchestra composed and orchestrated by Vitezslava Kapralova. CD1 presents Kaprálová’s Military Sinfonietta and Suita rustica for symphony orchestra, together with the Suite en miniature and the Prélude de Noël for chamber orchestra. The disc also features Waving Farewell for soprano and orchestra and the world premiere recording of Kaprálová’s Fanfare for brass instruments and timpani. CD2 presents Partita for strings and piano and the early Piano Concerto in D Minor. It also includes, as a bonus track and for reference, a piano suite which Kapralova later orchestrated as Suite en miniature (available on CD1).

This recording has been financially assisted by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Kapralova Society.

Young Czech soprano Veronika Rovna studied classical voice with the prominent Czech opera singer Eva Drizgova at the Janacek Conservatory in Ostrava and the University of Ostrava Faculty of Performing Arts. In 2015 she won the Antonin Dvorak International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary. Rovna is a member of the opera ensemble of the National Moravian-Silesian Theater in Ostrava.

Tomas Vrana graduated from the Janacek Conservatory in Ostrava and continued his piano studies with Ivan Klansky at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He performed with the prestigious Czech Philharmonic at the age of 20. Vrana regularly appears with the Janacek Philharmonic and Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra but also performs solo recitals and chamber music. His repertoire ranges from Baroque to contemporary music.

Alena Hron is an up-and-coming conductor of the younger generation. She studied conducting and composition at the Prague Conservatory and conducting at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. She is currently studying toward a Master’s degree in conducting at the Zurich University of the Arts. Hron has worked with many Czech orchestras, including PKF Prague Philharmonia, Hradec Králové Philharmonic, and Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Zlín. Her debut at the Prague Spring Festival in May 2023, in which she conducted the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, was hailed by critics as a great triumph.

The Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Ostrava, is one of the leading symphony orchestras in the Czech Republic. The orchestra’s adherence to long-established orchestral traditions, and its typical Bohemian sound and broad repertoire, have earned the ensemble recognition for excellence by local and international audiences and critics alike. Besides the music by Czech composers, the orchestra’s repertoire ranges from late romantic to 20th-century music, including works by Mahler, Bartok, and Shostakovich.

Please note that the music recorded on this compact disc is in print. Click here for the complete discography of Kapralova's music.

Vitezslava Kapralova (Brno, 24. 1. 1915–Montpellier, 16. 6. 1940) is one of the most remarkable composers of her generation. Despite the brevity of her creative life, which spanned only a decade, Kapralova managed to leave behind a relatively sizeable catalogue of many substantial works that include piano, chamber, orchestral, and vocal compositions.

Suite en miniature (1935) is an orchestrated four-movement piano suite from 1931, to which Kapralová returned during the first months of her composition studies with Vitezslav Novak at the Prague Conservatory. In terms of musical ideas, the two suites are identical. The suite's instrumentation is interesting: the dark Praeludium, with its mystical and foreboding atmosphere, is scored for strings, while the contrasting lyrical Pastorale is scored for wind instruments; the gently melancholic Lullaby combines the winds with strings and a harp to which Kaprálová added a trumpet, timpani, triangle and cymbals in the final Menuetto, ending her composition in a lightened mood.

With Military Sinfonietta (1937), which became her best-known orchestral work, Kapralova successfully graduated from the Prague Conservatory Master School. She premiered the work with the Czech Philharmonic in 1937 in Prague, and in 1938 she presented it at the 16th Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in London, conducting the BBC Orchestra.

Suita rustica (1938) was commissioned by the Universal Edition London. Kapralova worked on the score under a tight, one-month deadline. The themes of the three-movement suite are built on the melodies and rhythms of six folk songs and dances (each movement on two) that alternate in contrasting rhythm. In Suita rustica Kapralova came closest to her compositional ideal, Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka.

Originally a song for voice and piano, Waving Farewell (1937–1938) is not only the greatest song of Kapralova but also one of the most important Czech art songs of the twentieth century. Since it was composed just before her graduation from the Prague Conservatory in 1937, Vitezslav Nezval’s poem also conveyed Kapralova’s feelings about saying a goodbye to her studies, to “the most beautiful city of Prague” (as the dedication on the score reads), and to her beloved teacher Vitezslav Novak. She orchestrated the song a year later in Paris.

The miniature piece for chamber orchestra Prélude de Noël, or Christmas Prelude (1939), was commissioned by Radio Paris PTT for its Christmas show “Noël a Prague,” broadcast on 24 December 1939 to occupied Czechoslovakia.

Fanfare for two horns, two trumpets and timpani (1939) is Kapralova’s musical present for her father’s fiftieth birthday. The musical “salutation” forms a preamble to the letter to her father, dated in Paris on 23 March 1939, during the agonizing first days of the German occupation of Kaprálová’s homeland. This is the piece’s world premiere recording.

The neo-Baroque Partita for strings and piano (1939) represents a certain turning point in Kapralova’s musical thought. She arrived at the new sound by taking a different approach to the composition’s structure and the instrumentation in which the piano, rather than performing the typical role of a soloist, plays more of a percussive role as one of the members of the orchestra.

Kapralova composed the three-movement Piano Concerto in D Minor (1935) during the last year of her studies at the Brno Conservatory. The first movement in sonata form is still grounded in the romantic idiom. The second movement, unusually short and dominated by a dark melody, is in contrapuntal style. The last movement, in rondo form, already anticipates a new creative period that was to blossom during Kapralova’s studies at the Prague Conservatory. The Piano Concerto in D Minor convincingly displays the versatility of Kapralova’s musical talent, with its typical energy and passion, lyricism and intelligent humour, spontaneity but also discipline.

Kapralova composed her four-movement piano Suite (1931) at the Brno Conservatory over the course of the first two school years. (For its orchestral version, see CD1). In 1932, Kaprálová added Funeral March to the piece, and had it premiered under the title Five Piano Compositions. This is the first time the Suite has been recorded as a stand-alone composition.

FROM REVIEWS:

There’s no doubt that the cpo double album is well positioned to take its place among the most important releases of Kapralova’s music to date — certainly a desirable recording to have in one’s collection, and a must for lovers of the composer's music.

Das Orchester zeigt ein solides Niveau und musiziert inspiriert unter der Leitung der tschechischen Dirigentin.

The new album directed by Alena Hron is an accomplishment!

Besondere Erwähnung verdient das Orchesterlied Sbohem a satecek, das es mühelos mit den besten Gattungsbeiträgen Richard Strauss‘ aufnehmen kann: Veronika Rovna singt es vorzüglich . . .