JANÁ?EK Violin Sonata. NOVÁK Violin Sonata. NEDBAL Violin Sonata • Ivan Ženatý (vn); Martin Krasík (pn) • SUPRAPHON 3978 (64:19)
Ivan Ženatý’s recital with Martin Krasík brings together works by three Czech composers: the by-now familiar Sonata by Leoš Janá?ek and two earlier works by Vít?zslav Novák and Oskar Nedbal.Read more Novák’s and Nedbal’s sonatas may recall the eras in which they took shape, but so does Janá?ek’s, which might be taken as expressing an almost surrealist response to the gathering storms of World War I (even though Janá?ek completed the last several of the six versions of the work that Jaromír Havlík’s notes trace well after the war had ended). Ženatý’s reading of this first movement spans both opposites that the Sonata comprehends: the terrifying opening (the bleak horrors of which return in the third and fourth movements) and a melodic sensibility (which predominates in the second movement) that nevertheless doesn’t recall an earlier era. Ženatý produces a rich, glowing sound from the 1743 Prince of Orange Guarneri del Gesù upon which he plays, a sound that’s penetrating in its upper registers and throaty in its lower ones. Recorded with lifelike fidelity, the violin almost serves as a third interpretive partner in this work. This isn’t a lean, sharp-edged reading of the Sonata in the manner of Gidon Kremer’s terrifying one (Deutsche Grammophon 427351, 16:4); but, just as Frank Peter Zimmermann (EMI 85708, 28:2) and Josef Suk (Discover 920317, 21:1) “make their points with less overtly jagged expressionistic thrusting,” Ženatý’s version represents perhaps a richer, more complex vision that nevertheless makes this thorny work thoroughly accessible.
According to the notes, Novák’s impassioned Sonata hails from his student days, and he had to revise it several times upon Dvo?ák’s insistence. Ženatý possesses not only the temperament but also the tonal weight to do justice to this sonorous and, at least in its first movement, forward-looking Sonata. The duo also seems well attuned to the second movement’s dark lyricism and sensitive dialogue; the third movement brings a return of the thunderous urgency of the first and draws upon the duo’s ample tonal reserves.
Nedbal’s Sonata, written only several years later, flows more tranquilly, though it also possesses moments of impetuous excitability. Still, listeners who tire of incessant exclamation marks may find it more congenial than Novák’s work. If the second movement promises contrast, its seriousness and heartfelt Romanticism, replete with soaring climaxes and declamatory double-stops, carry it far beyond the boundaries of simple songfulness that its opening suggests. The last movement fulminates with a fury recalling Novák’s; the duo seems especially sympathetic to Novák’s musical language, at once dialectical and vernacular in its expression.
General listeners as well as specialists should warmly welcome the duo’s performance of Janá?ek’s Sonata, as well as the recital’s less familiar repertoire. Strongly recommended.
Simply Outstanding!July 26, 2013By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Czech music has something in its DNA which somehow makes it instantly appealing, and with this excellent recording we have a prime example. Three intriguing Czech violin sonatas are given a superb performance, of which Supraphon can really be proud. Violinst Ivan Zenaty and pianist Martin Kasik take the music of Leos Janacek, Vitezslav Novak, and Oskar Nedbal to heart, and the listener is rewarded with an aesthetically satisfying hour-long chamber music recital of the highest order. All three composers belong the the 'second wave' of Czech national composers, the generation that followed Dvorak and Smetana, and each had his own unique 'Czech style.' Janacek's spiky, irrespressible sonata was written during WW1 and juxtaposes pungent dissonant passages, quirky and disjunctive string work in several places, and extended tonal writing which contrasts the delicate and the assertive. All of this results in a unique, gratifying and thoroughly satisfying listening experience. Novak's more conventional technique gives us a lovely, delicate sonata of soaring lyricism with remarkable balance between violinist and pianist. As for Oskar Nedbal, here is a composer previously unknown to this reviewer, but what a revelation his violin sonata turned out to be- a melodious, wonderfully upbeat work with hints of Dvorak's folksiness. This was a great way to end a collection of substantial and meritorious Czech chamber works. All in all, this is an outstanding disk, sure to please any classical music lover who enjoys recital music. Both performers are razor-sharp throughout, and Supraphon's sonic qualities are impeccable. In short, a CD to be enjoyed many times over. Highly recommended."Report Abuse