Vítězslava Kaprálová is considered one of the Czech Republic’s greatest female composers — and with good reason. She was a student of Vítězslav Novák and Bohuslav Martinu. She conducted performances of her works with both the Czech Philharmonic and the BBC Orchestra. She wrote over fifty compositions, several of which won awards. And she was dead at age 25.
This release features live performances from the Kaprálová Festival in Michigan. Kenneth Kiesler conducts the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra in some enthusiastic and firey performances.
Kaprálová’s music bristles with youthful energy, dazzling with brilliant orchestral colors. But there’s substance here, too. These are well-crafted works that one might expect from a composer in a mid or even later career.
I could hear echoes of both Novák and Martinu in passages of Kaprálová’s music. But I think those were the Czech elements that colored the sound of all three composers. In terms of organization and orchestration, Kaprálová was very much her own woman.
Pianist Amy I-Lin Cheng does the 1935 Piano Concerto justice. Her playing melds Romantic expressiveness with an edginess that seems in keeping with Kaprálová’s character.
Another standout is the title track, “Waving Farewell.” Kaprálová wrote 33 songs, only a few given orchestral accompaniment. The music swirls around the text, conveying the roiling emotions it suggests.
This recording presents five of Kaprálová’s fifty compositions. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to collect them all.
Vítězslava Kaprálová: Waving Farewell
Sad Evening; Piano Concerto; Prélude de Noël; Military Sinfonietta; Suite en miniature
Nicholas Phan, tenor; Amy I-Lin Cheng, piano
University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra; Kenneth Kiesler, conductor