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New Czech Composers - Germot, Et Al / Hessová, Wiesner

Release Date: 09/05/2006 
Label:  Cube Bohemia   Catalog #: 2632   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jiri GemrotSylvie BodorováMiroslav KubičkaPetr Janda
Performer:  Silvie HessovaDaniel Wiesner
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WORKS FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO BY NEW CZECH COMPOSERS Silvie Hessová (vn); Daniel Wiesner (pn) CUBE BOHEMIA 2632 (64:40)

GEMROT Violin Sonata. BODOROVÁ Concerto del fiori. KUBICKA Violin Sonata. JANDA Forgotten Time

I gave a good review to Sylvie Hessová’s CD of Read more works by Smetana, Dvorák, Suk, and Janácek in the last issue, and here she is again with a program of new works by living Czech composers. She has the kind of tone and attack that used to characterize many Eastern European violinists in the old days (think of Josef Szigeti) but has since been smoothed over in the rush to produce an all-purpose tone and technique regardless of one’s national origin. And I will add one more thing: Hessová is a very serious musician. Her appearance, at least to judge by the photos on the two CDs I’ve seen, is no-nonsense and does not play up her glamour even though she is pretty. She normally has a very intense look on her face while playing, concentrating on the music with great intensity. In short, she’s the kind of artist I am immediately drawn to. She doesn’t seem given to playing games or going in for Glamour Shots.

The music on this CD, despite all being written by living composers, has the same kind of harmonic base and gritty melodies as the music of Bartók, Suk, and Janácek. A fine example is Jirí Gemrot’s Violin Sonata, written at the request of Hessová and Wiesner. The composer certainly understands the intensity and serious nature of these two musicians and, as he says in the liner notes, the sonata form seems to be his perfect mode of expression, “contrasting two different worlds and at the same time allowing the depth of expression.” The second movement is particularly interesting in that it is not relaxed or calm in feeling, merely producing a different sort of tension at a slower tempo than the outer movements. Hessová really does understand this music, and both she and Wiesner (an excellent foil for her) leave no detail unattended to, no emotion unplayed. They are truly “in it” from start to finish. The last two movements are played without a pause, the quiet but disquieting music of the second’s finale leading to the equally unsettled tension of the final Passacaglia.

The second work on this disc was written by Sylvie Bodorová who, it turns out, taught in the 1990s at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. This is a concerto written for piano and violin, and it works well. It is a much more lyrical work than Gemrot’s sonata, at least to start, but the cadenza—taken at what seems like quadruple time—is fiery and almost violently emotional. Here, I was a little less enamored of Hessová’s tone, as her playing took on a grating, raspy quality, similar to Bronislaw Huberman at his most trenchant but without Huberman’s warmth when coming down in range. Curiously, the work ends in a measured Andante pace, resolute but in a way unresolved.

The sonata by Miroslav Kubicka is much more “modern”-sounding than the previous two works, using Czech harmonies and rhythms but rearranging them in such a way that they sound even more menacing than usual. Though written 1987-89, it clearly reflects his earlier interest in serial music and particularly the compositions of Pierre Boulez. The second movement, however, is unusually light and playful, one of the most whimsical things in this recital; and the finale, marked Andante, molto tranquillo , has a great feeling of calm and repose about it.

Petr Janda’s Forgotten Time is described by the composer as his attempt to capture the feeling of memories and how they play against the reality of what actually occurred in the past: “we cannot really recall if they really happened or if they are just figments of our imagination.” This music is particularly elongated, melancholy but not actively sad in nature, with occasional outbursts reflecting the fragmented nature of memory. As is her wont, Hessová plays with her usual combination of reflection and intensity; when the first movement Adagio suddenly changes to Allegro , she and Wiesner are ready for it, pouncing on the music like two hungry tigers. The second movement ( Vivace ) is exceptionally happy, even more so than the second movement of Kubicka’s sonata. The third is very lyrical, while the final Allegro con fuoco has a hefty feel to it, something like a bear trying to dance. Both musicians capture perfectly the feelings of both heft and playfulness.

This is an exceptionally fine CD musically, and although I had my quibbles about some of Hessová’s bowing and her astringent tone, I have no quibbles about her commitment as an artist. This is, quite simply, astonishing music, played with great intensity and feeling by both musicians.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Jiri Gemrot
Performer:  Silvie Hessova (Violin), Daniel Wiesner (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Czechoslovakia 
Concerto dei fiori by Sylvie Bodorová
Performer:  Silvie Hessova (Violin), Daniel Wiesner (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Czechoslovakia 
Sonata for Violin and Piano by Miroslav Kubička
Performer:  Silvie Hessova (Violin), Daniel Wiesner (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Czechoslovakia 
Forgotten time by Petr Janda
Performer:  Silvie Hessova (Violin), Daniel Wiesner (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Czechoslovakia 

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