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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Antonín Kubálek Recital - Hindemith, Janáček, & Martinů (1972)

"Antonín Kubálek was born in Libkovice, Czechoslovakia, in 1935 and is one of the most talented Czech pianists of today. He received his early music education at the Prague Conservatory of Music and the Prague Academy of Music was active as a pianist and teacher in Czechoslovakia since 1959. Mr. Kubalek toured Rumania (1958) Hungary (1959) Poland (1967) Germany (1968) and has recorded in Bucharest, Bratislava, Plzen, Ostrava and Prague, as well as for the Supraphon label.

"Like many other Czech artists and musicians, he left his native country in 1968 with his wife and two children and settled in Toronto. Since coming to Canada, he has been active as a teacher, soloist and accompanist on CBC Radio and CBC T.V. and has been heard in concert in many parts of the country. He was soloist with the Toronto Symphony in 1968 and 1972.

I would like to quote the music critic Jaromir Kriz of the Prague Music Magazine, who wrote this account of Antonín Kubáleks' performance of the Suite (1922) by Paul Hindemith. "It was profoundly and sensitively perceived musical expression, that could have hardly been developed by another pianist. We heard music of utmost perfection, beauty and breadth of sound".

"I believe that Antonín Kubálek is truly a gifted pianist and musician who we will hear a great deal from in years to come."

Karel Ancerl
Conductor & Musical Director Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Suite, op. 26 Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

Paul Hindemith came to artistic maturity in the disillusioned and unsettled society of Germany in the 1920's. Composers were turning away from the lavish introspection and effusive outpourings of Mahler and Strauss, and were replacing them with cynicism and the ridiculous, with satire and the grotesque. This same period saw the growth of the neo-classical movement, with its simple forms, direct musical statement, and open textures. The new style suited the instincts of the young Hindemith whose early work was already distinguished by the contrapuntal ingenuity and whimsy which were lifelong trademarks of his work. The early works, however, also reflect the harshness of the German artistic outlook of the 1920's, as evident in the one-act Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murder, Hope of Women), with a text by the painter Oskar Kokoschka, or Melancholie, for contralto and string quartet, words by Christian Morgenstern. From this period dates the Suite op. 26 for piano (1922).
Like its early baroque models, the Suite is a series of stylized dance movements. But the dances have none of the charm and elegance of earlier suites, for here is wry and often bitter satire. 
  1. I Marsch — A mockery of a march, with a wandering sense of tonality.
  2. II Shimmy — The shimmy was a popular American dance which was introduced towards the end of World War I.
  3. III Nachtstück — This nocturne serves as an intermezzo at the mid-point of the Suite. The jazz influences are still apparent, even under a Schumanesque guise.
  4. IV Boston — The "Boston" was current during the period c. 1917-1935 and was a jazz piano style characterized by accented bass figures. This angular, syncopated Waltz movement is interrupted by a long recitative passage.
  5. V Ragtime — To "rag" a tune was to syncopate it, and the term ragtime came to signify the "hot" style of early jazz. It is a flamboyant and delirious finale to the Suite. Hindemith offered the following directions on the manner of its performance:
    "Take no notice of what you learned in Piano School.
    Do not consider long whether you must strike the d-sharp with the fourth or the sixth (sic) finger.
    Play the piece very wildly, but keep very strictly in rhythm, like a machine.
    Consider the piano here as an interesting kind of percussion instrument and handle it accordingly."

Vmlhach (In the Mist)
Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)
Andante Andantino
Molto Adagio Presto

Janáček spent much of his life as a little known provincial musician in his native district of Moravia. He was over 40 before a significant work appeared, and it was not until 1916, when he was 62, that the opera Jenufa brought him international fame. This and five or six other operas, in which he reached his greatest stature, have secured a continuing place for him in the, theatre, but his output in other forms was slender and is little known. There are only a few piano pieces, including a Theme and Variations (1880) and a Sonata (1905). In the Mist (1912) is a four-movement suite composed in the grand tradition of late 19th century piano writing, with a personal modal sense which perhaps recalls the music of Janáček's youth in Moravia. Despite the title of the composition, there is no apparent programmatic intent.

The third movement sounds like pure folk-song, but it is an original piece which recreates the sense and mood of folk-music. The Finale is very free and rhapsodic, suggesting an improvisation, and briefly alludes to a motiv from the preceding movement.

Etude in F
Polka in A
Etude in F Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)

Martinů was born in eastern Bohemia. He grew up in the nationalist movement of his country, had a dislike of formal training, embraced the neo-classicism of the 1920's, and lived much of his creative life abroad while remaining attached to his national origins. In 1923 he left Czechoslovakia and settled in Paris where he remained until 1940, when he left for the U.S.A.

His compositional output was vast — it included at least twenty works for the stage, six symphonies, about twenty concerto style works for various instruments, and some fifty chamber works. Martinů developed a distinctive personal style derived from Moravian folk-music, a classical concern for clarity of texture and form, and a romantic inclination.

In 1945 he wrote three books of Etudes and Polkas for piano. The three played here are the last of Book III and demonstrate the o extremely effective idiomatic piano style of Martinů, and his romantic musical disposition. The first of the Etudes is a study in arpeggio figures, and the second is a study in chords and irregular rhythms. They are separated by a gentle and sophisticated polka.

Notes by Carl Morey
Cover painting by Florence Mahon

Track List:

"1922" Suite for Piano/1922
  1. I. March
  2. II. Shimmy.
  3. III. Nachtstück
  4. IV. Boston
  5. V. Ragtime
Publisher: B. Schott's Söhne, Mainz, West Germany.

LEOŠ JANÁČEK/1854-1928
"In the Mist"/1912
  1. I. Andante
  2. II. Molto Adagio
  3. III. Andantino
  4. IV. Presto
Publisher: Hudební Matice, Prague 1924, Czechoslovakia.

"Etudes and Polkas" Book III/1945
  1. Etude in F
  2. Polka in A
  3. Etude in F
Publisher: Boosey-Hawkes, Ltd. USA 1946.

Download Link: Enjoy the Music!

More Recordings by Antonín Kubálek:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you - Martinu in particular is underrated outside Czech!