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Viktor Kalabis: Chamber Compositions.

Viktor Kalabis Chamber Compositions

Ondrej Lebr--violin, Lukas Polak --cello, Miroslav Sekera--piano, Jana Ludvickova--violin, Monika Knoblochova--harpsichord. Text: Czech, English. Recorded: Martinek studio, Prague, 2011 and Q012. Released: 2015. IT': 71:16. DDD. 1 CD Radioservis CR0717-2.


The composer, radio music programmer and musicologist Viktor Kalabis was one of the most distinguished Czech music figures of the 20th century. The present album features six of his chamber pieces. Four tracks are performed by the members of the Kalabis Trio--Ondrej Lebr (violin), Lukas Polak (cello) and Miroslav Sekera (piano)--who were joined by the violinist Jana Ludvickova and the harpsichordist Monika Knoblochova in delivering another two compositions. The CD opens with the 1987 Duettinos for Violin and Cello, Op. 67, a piece possessing all the attributes characteristic of Kalabis's singular musical idiom. The energetic and poignant composition is delivered with technical accuracy and agogic forcibility, revealing the courage to make use of the extreme dynamic range. The following Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 39, written in 1974, and the Capriccio for Two Violins and Piano, Op. 85, completed in 1998 (performed by Lebr, Sekera and Ludvickova), can be deemed the album's apices. The two enchanting pieces of beautiful music are splendidly interpreted with profound understanding, with the violinist and cellist confirming their mastery, and the pianist Sekera dazzling in both compositions with a lovely tone, glittering in the top registers and blustering in a cultivated manner in the lower octaves. In the Capriccio for Two Violins and Piano, Ludvickova is an equal partner to Leber. The two works are imbued with an unceasing tension, which all the players have succeeded in bringing to bear with maximum intensity. Kalabis's music requires not only high technical skills, but also the performers' engagement and a certain type of creative input, musical imagination, which, in my opinion, is necessary for the revival of works composed relatively recently, works yet to have become generally known. And these requirements are met with aplomb by all the musicians who joined forces to record this CD. The fourth piece on the album is the Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord, Op. 28, composed in 1967 for Josef Suk and Zuzana Ruzickova, Kalabis's wife. The violinist Ondrej Lebr shows just how at home he is in Kalabis's music, while the superlative performance given by the harpsichordist Monika Knoblochova serves as yet more proof of the CD's top-notch quality. The "studio tribute" to Viktor Kalabis is rounded off by two works for solo cello: the Three Monologues for Cello, Op. 83 (1996), and the Rondo dramatico per violoncello sollo, Op. 86, created as a compulsory piece for the competition within the Prague Spring 1998 international festival. They represented an alluring challenge for Lukas Polak, who, to my taste, occasionally applies an overly elliptical vibrato, yet has succeeded in presenting them, the Rondo drammatico in particular, so forcibly and engrossingly that I have not the slightest doubt as to his great artistry. In conclusion, I would like to praise Vit Roubicek, who in his booklet notes provides analysis of the individual compositions and all the essential information pertaining to the music and Kalabis himself, with his comprehensive text being a prime example of an efficient processing of musicological data for this purpose.

Irena Cernickova
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Author:Cernickova, Irena
Publication:Czech Music
Article Type:Sound recording review
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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