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Martinu, Falla: Harpsichord Works / Monika Knoblochová

Release Date: 06/28/2005 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 3805   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Bohuslav MartinuManuel de Falla
Performer:  Lenka Kozderková-SimkováDaniela OerterováJana VychodilováEleonora Machová,   ... 
Conductor:  Michal Macourek
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MARTIN? Harpsichord Concerto.1 Promenades.2 2 Pieces. Harpsichord Sonata. 2 Impromptus. DE FALLA Harpsichord Concerto3 - Monika Knoblochová (hpd); Michal Macourek, cond; Lenka Kozderková-Šimková (fl);1,2,3 Vladislav Borovka (ob);3 Karel Dohnal (cl);3 Václav Fürbach (bn);1 Adéla Štajnochrová (vn);1,2,3 Daniela Oerterová (vn);1 Eleonora Machová (vn);1 Vojt?ch Semerád (va);1 Tomáš Strašil (vc);1,3 Jan Buble (db);1 Jana Vychodilová (pn)1 - SUPRAPHON SU 3805-2 (59:06)

Martin? harpsichord works, the front cover and spine of the jewel box proclaims, but it’s the back cover that lets you know this release also contains de Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto.
Read more As I’ve mentioned several times before in these reviews, I’m at a loss to understand marketing logic, assuming it isn’t an oxymoron. Perhaps de Falla wasn’t considered Czech enough to rate mention? Or the fact that the disc contained more music just didn’t fit into the artistic design of the front cover, with its image of a looming Knoblochová smirking unpleasantly in a man’s suit, her hair slicked back like some corporate takeover viper? Who is this harpsichordist, anyway? Monika Knoblochová graduated from the Prague Conservatory with a piano degree, then switched to harpsichord at the city’s Academy of Performing Arts. She’s taken graduate classes from John Toll, Ketil Haugsand, and Jacques Ogg, won third prize at the 1999 Prague Spring International Competition, and took third prize again in the 16th Grosser Förderpreiswettbewerb at Munich, in 2003. She’s definitely a young artist to watch over the years to come.

As Knoblochová is also the producer for this album, it’s rather a rum deal she’s given her fellow artists, however. They get name mentions on the jewel box and on the note listings, but no background information, while the harpsichordist rates a full page in tiny font, along with four full color, full page photos. That said, from other sources it looks like Knoblochová has decided to employ several friends from among the ranks of young Prague competition laureates, and from the Resonance Ensemble. She managed the group as well as performed with it, though that, too, isn’t mentioned in the liner notes.

The group performances are generally good, if inclining a bit towards the superficial. The instrumentalists play well together, underlining the lyricism of the Martin? concerto, but completely miss the edges of the de Falla work. (For my money, the latter has far more personality on Brilliant Classics 6434, where the harpsichordist is the formidable Rafael Puyana.) Occasionally I felt that the musicians traded wit for general amiability, as in the Promenades, whose first poco allegro movement is far slower than its concluding one, and whose scherzando is simply too slow to score any of its points. The solo works are better, with Knoblochová displaying an excellent technique and a firm grasp of style.

The engineering has its share of problems as well. The harpsichord is recorded at a distance, so that it recedes slightly behind the other instruments in both concertos. It’s also miked at a lower volume level in the solo works. This means that what makes for a comfortable listening level in the Promenades won’t do for the Two Pieces and the Harpsichord Sonata; but if you adjust the disc for the solo works, the woodwinds in the following de Falla concerto jump in your lap. The 1939 Pleyel is also a dry, rather percussive and monochromatic instrument, at least as heard, here.

Admittedly, there isn’t much competition in several of the Martin? works. I prefer the Feinstein Ensemble in the Promenades on Naxos 8.553459, but the Concerto as performed on Supraphon SU 3622 is a dreary affair—not for R?ži?ková, who does a fine job, but because Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic appear to be having a serious off-day. With little else to select from, this disc would seem to win by default; and it has to be said that Knoblochová is an effective soloist. Still, I can’t help thinking that with a different producer and some other colleagues, this harpsichordist’s debut CD would be that much more impressive.

Barry Brenesal, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Harpsichord by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Lenka Kozderková-Simková (Flute), Daniela Oerterová (Violin), Jana Vychodilová (Piano),
Eleonora Machová (Violin), Adéla Stajnochrová (Violin), Jan Buble (Double Bass),
Tomas Strasil (Cello), Monika Knoblochová (Harpsichord), Václav Fürbach (Bassoon),
Vojtech Semerád (Viola)
Conductor:  Michal Macourek
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; Czech Republic 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  St Kunigund Church, Bamberg, Germany 
Length: 17 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Promenades for Violin, Flute and Harpsichord by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Adéla Stajnochrová (Violin), Monika Knoblochová (Harpsichord), Lenka Kozderková-Simková (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  St Kunigund Church, Bamberg, Germany 
Length: 8 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Impromptus (2) for Harpsichord by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Monika Knoblochová (Harpsichord)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  St Kunigund Church, Bamberg, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Violin and Cello by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Karel Dohnal (Clarinet), Vladislav Borovka (Oboe), Lenka Kozderková-Simková (Flute),
Adéla Stajnochrová (Violin), Tomas Strasil (Cello), Monika Knoblochová (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Michal Macourek
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1926; Spain 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  St Kunigund Church, Bamberg, Germany 
Length: 14 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Pieces (2) for Harpsichord by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Monika Knoblochová (Harpsichord)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  St Kunigund Church, Bamberg, Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Sonata for Harpsichord by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Monika Knoblochová (Harpsichord)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  St Kunigund Church, Bamberg, Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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