Viktor Kalabis Sonatas for cello, clarinet, violin, and piano.
Tomas Jamnik--cello, Anna Paulova--clarinet, Jan Fiser--violin, Ivo Kahanek--piano.
Text: EN, GE, FR, CZ. Recorded: 2016, 2017, Martinu Hall, Prague. Published: 2018. TT: 65:51. 1 CD Supraphon SU 4210-2.
This trio of sonatas by Viktor Kalabis might provide a model for discussions as to whether absolute music has any "content" and can speak through more than its tone structure. The music of all three pieces is defiant, sometimes coarse, there are conflicts, the two instruments struggle. All three sonatas are rather compositions for piano and melodic instrument--the piano (at least in these interpretations and particularly in the Sonata for cello) has a strong sonic prevalence. A common feature of the three pieces is their Classical three-movement structure with a slow middle movement. They also correspond in the dimensions of the individual movements within the overall structure, always with an emphasis on the final, longest movement. The third movement of the cello sonata could even function as a separate composition--not only for its length, but also given its formal and stylistic variety, its richness in rhythm and contrast. These are not works to listen to at a pleasant get-together: this nervous music teases, provokes, sometimes irritates. The explanation is simple. The cello sonata was written in 1968, the clarinet sonata a year later. And not even 1982, the year the violin sonata was composed, was marked by the fulfilment of the promised beautiful tomorrows--quite the opposite. Compared to the others, this latest piece is more concentrated. The composer provides the solo instrument with more opportunities to sing, the piece contains fewer stark contrasts than the preceding sonatas, there is a balance, perhaps even some resignation. It is a work of equilibrium and maturity. All three pieces provide a difficult task for the performers, one they took on in full measure of their talents and with humility towards the composer.