Old Czech Masters / Gabriela Demeterova

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BENDA Violin Concerto in D. PICHL Violin Concerto, op. 3/1. Vranick´Y Violin Concerto in C & Gabriela Demeterová (vn); Milan Laj?ik, cond; Prague CO SUPRAPHON 3977 (66:30)

& Video: Vranick´Y Violin Concerto in C: Allegro giusto

František Benda (1709–1786), Václav Pichl (1741–1805), and Antonín Vranický (1761–1820) represent three generations of Czech violinist-composers who created a non-Italian, non-French literature for the instrument. Even the earliest, Benda, explored in his Concerto in D Major (according to Lucie Ma?ourová’s notes, one of 15) the top of the violin’s register in passagework that sounds now as patterned as that in the first movement of Bach’s Concerto in E Major, and now as brilliant as Locatelli’s. The aria-like slow movement offers Gabriela Demeterová an opportunity to display her lyrical powers as effectively as the first movement showcased her technical polish. Like the first movement, the finale combines showy virtuosic passages with suave cantabile episodes.

Pichl approximates the coming Viennese style in writing for the violin that might have been drawn from Mozart’s concertos—not only the opening movement’s arpeggiated figurations, but the second movement’s smooth elegance, and the courtly turns of the finale (Rondo: Tempo di menuetto) as well. Demeterová plays throughout with the easy grace of a compatriot comfortable with the period’s style.

Vranický’s Concerto begins with a bumptious introduction that suggests rough-and-tumble, but the solo’s entrance reveals an advance both stylistic and technical beyond the benchmarks set by the works of the other two composers, though much of Vranický’s passagework, especially in the finale, approaches closer to Viotti in manner than to the later composers the notes identify as Vranický’s models and teachers (Mozart, Haydn, and Albrechtsberger).

The Prague Chamber Orchestra plays with style and verve; the engineers have balanced Demeterová somewhat in front of it, but not so far as to sound unnatural. John Bauman reviewed these performances, recorded in 1995, when they appeared as Supraphon 002-2031 (without the video, which can be played on PC or Apple), in 19:6, finding the violinist’s tone “warm” though not “overly large,” and her style generally “well suited” to the three concertos. His complaint about a lack of information about the music (the disc apparently served as Demeterová’s debut) in the booklet has been answered by the inclusion of Lucie Ma?ourová’s helpful notes, mentioned above. Recommended to all listeners, not only for its historical value but also for the eloquent playing of the debutante violinist.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: SU3977-2

  • UPC: 099925397722

  • Label: Supraphon

  • Composer: Friedrich Ludwig Benda, Václav Pichl, Vranicky

  • Conductor: Milan Lajcik

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Prague Chamber Orchestra

  • Performer: Gabriela Demeterová