Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4210-2

Viktor Kalabis (1923–2006), one of the most distinguished figures of 20th-century Czech music, wrote dozens of opuses, mainly instrumental pieces, including for his wife, the world-renowned harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková. As he himself put it, his aim was to create music rooted in his country, music for educated listeners. Although he also drew inspiration from 20th-century greats, Kalabis arrived at a synthetic style of his own, an alternative to the rational compositional techniques – a non-Romantic alternative, akin to Neo-Classicism.

Besides the first ever album of Kalabis’s complete piano oeuvre (2 CDs, scheduled to be released in 2019), Ivo Kahánek, along with the cellist Tomáš Jamník, the clarinettist Anna Paulová and the violinist Jan Fišer, has recorded the composer’s three sonatas. The one for cello reflects the dramatic events in Czechoslovakia between June and September 1968: the months of euphoria of the Prague Spring, followed by disillusionment and resignation in the wake of the Warsaw Pact’s invasion, which for two decades to come would numb all hopes of freedom. The clarinet sonata (1969) clearly refers to the time of its coming into being: drama, grief and sorrow, escalated into harrowing helplessness. The elliptical and coherent violin sonata (1982) places emphasis on the instrument’s ty­pical ethos – melodiousness, bright sound and soulfulness. After 3 CDs featuring Kalabis’s sym­phonies and concertos (Supraphon 2013), the present recording affords yet another insight into the composer’s musical universe.

Ivo Kahánek said of the album: “My encounter with Kalabis’s music was indeed something new. His oeuvre clearly reveals his seeking a compositional synthesis, which, however, rather complicates the interpreter’s role, as finding the clue to understanding him is no easy task. Kalabis’s musical idiom occasionally comes across as almost erratic, although that is not actually the case. Rendering and duly pinpointing all the nuances is quite challenging, while some passages are extremely difficult for the pianist to negotiate, particularly owing to the unexpected nature of his modalities. On the other hand, I deem it to be very refreshing not being bound by the established performance tradition and being able to communicate with the composer ‘directly’, through the score alone.”

Supraphon will release the album on 21 September 2018 on CD and in digital formats.