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Karel Reiner: Cello Concerto; Sonata Brevis; Elegy And Capriccio; Verses

Reiner / Foron / Raekallio / Macal
Release Date: 07/10/2012 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 83   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karel Reiner
Performer:  Sebastian ForonMatti Raekallio
Conductor:  Zdenek Macal
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

REINER Cello Concerto 1. Sonata Brevis 2. Elegy and Capriccio 2. Verses 2 Sebastian Foron (vc); 1 Zden?k Mácal, cond; 1 Czech PO. 2 Matti Raekallio (pn) Read more TOCCATA CLASSICS 0083 (71:31)

This release is of major significance not only because of the inherent power and intricacy of the music itself but because it opens up a perspective on a little-known world of the between-the-wars Czech avant-garde. Karel Reiner (1910-1979), a pupil of the noted micro-tonalist Alois Hába, was one of the leading lights of this group, and, after his miraculous survival of the Nazi concentration camps and in spite of his intermittent run-ins with the Communist establishment, he continued to write outstanding works during the postwar years. The booklet offers a wealth of fascinating information and insights in the form of interviews conducted by cellist Foron with several individuals who interacted with Reiner and his circle over the years.

The abruptly shattering opening of Reiner’s 1941-43 Cello Concerto, written just before he and his wife were marched off to Terezín, gives immediate and startling notice that this is music not to be trifled with, music of utterly consistent seriousness and integrity, of a prickly intelligence and force but never purely cerebral, whose roiling emotional content is always perceptible beneath its thorny surface. Reiner’s idiom is aggressively, even combatively, dissonant with a mercurially complex manner but never unintelligible due to its songful—and occasionally mischievous—motivic linearity. The soloist is practically always on call, often encompassing extreme registers and, together with the orchestral accompaniment, wide leaps of mood and texture. Despite this implacable modernism in the context of its time and place, Reiner thought of himself as a genuinely Czech composer, building on the foundations not only of Novak and Suk but also those of his more cosmopolitan-oriented precursors, such as two great and under-recognized figures, Karel Jirák (1891-1972) and Otakar Ostr?il (1879-1935), both of whom were fully aware of new developments throughout Europe, especially Germany and Austria, from Mahler to the Second Vienna School.

The brilliant Sonata Brevis , written in 1946 just after Reiner’s liberation, and once available on domestic Czech vinyl (together with numerous other works such as a Concerto for Bass Clarinet, Three Symphonic Movements, Suite Concertante , a second Nonet and a Brass Sextet, etc.), is almost a subsidiary encapsulation of the concerto. During the postwar years Reiner, like his teacher Hába, occasionally wrote in a more direct and tonal-friendly manner, as embodied by the Elegy and Capriccio of 1957-1960. The final work here, Verses , originally for viola and piano, comes from 1975, just a few years before his death and is hence a very late effort. This is definitely the most experimental piece on the program, partially perhaps because it is played here on a cello “at the original pitch,” making its sudden ghostly shifts of direction and dynamics somewhat more difficult to follow and fathom.

Foron’s authoritative way with this enormously challenging material, together with Mácal’s immaculate conducting of the great Czech Philharmonic, indicate that they have spent much time and effort getting to know and appreciate this astonishing music. You should too.

FANFARE: Paul A. Snook
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Cello by Karel Reiner
Performer:  Sebastian Foron (Cello)
Conductor:  Zdenek Macal
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941-43 
Sonata Brevis by Karel Reiner
Performer:  Sebastian Foron (Cello), Matti Raekallio (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946 
Elegy and Capriccio by Karel Reiner
Performer:  Sebastian Foron (Cello), Matti Raekallio (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957-1960 
Verses by Karel Reiner
Performer:  Sebastian Foron (Cello), Matti Raekallio (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975 

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