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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    KVAPIL IN CONCERT


Beethoven's Op 111 (a work Kvapil has evidently played all his life) was aptly romantic in the context of the programme -- the first movement, despite some rhythmic flaccidity, excelled in dramatic character -- the three note motif pointed (sometimes almost too emphatically) through the developmental textures and a true sense of purpose and transformation experienced in the arrival at the final C major chord, which leads to the ethereal Arietta. Here Kvapil's expressive artistry was riveting, each variation mounting in tension, yet always detailed in articulation, maintaining tension throughout. The climactic shimmering high registers and triple trills were unusually lucid, and bell-like in resonance. This was a colouristically inflected, rather than Classical, interpretation, perhaps Janácek-like in inspiration.

Indeed the connection was highlighted with the following work, two pieces from Janácek's fifteen-piece collection Along an Overgrown Path. 'The Madonna of Frydek' conveyed its intense mood with ostinati and propulsive motivic processes while 'They chattered like sparrows' conveyed brighter harmony and rarified textures.

Radoslav Kvapil
Radoslav Kvapil

The programme ended with the exciting concert study On the seashore by Smetana, full of swirling scales and arpeggio passagework, clearly layered textures and themes powerfully etched in bold octaves. Where Janácek is pianistically sparse, Smetana imbues his piano works with the expansive palette of his orchestral works, a broad chromatic syntax flowing with panache. Kvapil is a first-rank pianist with profound awareness of sonority and colour, yet also coherence and energy, and imbued with a heartfelt affinity for Czech music. This recital was both impressive and exhilarating: one looks forward eagerly to a return visit to the UK.

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Copyright © 18 March 2003 Malcolm Miller, London, UK


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