Vánoce – Christmas in Czech Piano Music

Ksenia Kouzmenko

19.9935.99
Clear
Original Recording Format: DSD 256

This program is a continuation of the two previous recording projects with Czech music, “Whispering Leaves” (COBRA0069 – view here) and “Fenetre sur le jardin” (COBRA0070 – view here). This time the theme is Christmas (“Vánoce”), again with several world premieres of beautiful music that have been unjustly forgotten.

“Christmas Eve” and “A Child’s Christmas Dream” by Josef Suk bring distinctly different Christmas atmospheres. The pieces are psychologically subtle, with many voices and complex harmonies, but always melodic, sincere, and generous.

The cycle “Vánoce” by Jaroslav Kvapil is the first world premiere on this album. According to Ludvik Kundera, “it is not only the most personal work of Kvapil but also an expression of an ardent life experience full of lyric beauty”. Here Kvapil’s spontaneous musicality blossoms, his inexhaustible melodic creativity, and natural musical intuition. The immediacy and intensity with which he expresses his emotions recall the compositional style of his teacher, Janacek.

Three short pieces (“Sledge”, “Lullaby”, and “Christmas Carol”) by Bohuslav Martinu render the atmosphere of the Christmas period and things that typically belong in it: snowy fun on a sledge, a children’s lullaby with magical bells which get more festive, and a merry Christmas pageant with singing and dancing.

Novak was one of the best-known pupils of Dvorak and one of the most important Czech composers of the beginning of the 20th century. Two of his works are presented on this album. The “Songs on Winter Nights” are extremely varied in character: after an amorous moonlit night follows a nightly storm, after a mystical Christmas night a burlesque carnival’s night. The Christmas sonatina has a warmly lyrical and dance-like character. In the second part, Novak uses an old song from the period of Jan Hus, which was traditionally sung during Epiphany.

One of Novak’s best pupils was Jaroslav Kricka. His cycle “Intimate Pieces”, the second world premiere, was a Christmas present in 1912 and seems to be a tonal declaration of love. The intensity of its lyrical expression streams from beginning to end. The last small piece, “Christ the Lord is born” by Leos Janacek is a charming and tender piano version of a very well-known Czech Christmas carol from the 15th century.

Ksenia Kouzmenko is internationally renowned for her sensitive and technically accomplished piano playing and is a much sought-after partner in chamber music. She recently discovered the joy of playing on an Erard grand piano, with its inspiring sound possibilities.

Ksenia Kouzmenko, Piano

Tracklist

1.
Christmas Eve
02:19
2.
A Child's Christmas Dream op.33 no.5
03:01
3.
Vanoce (Christmas) - I. Con fuoco
04:53
4.
Vanoce (Christmas) - II. Con moto
04:10
5.
Vanoce (Christmas) - III. Lento
03:21
6.
Vanoce (Christmas) - IV. Allegro molto
04:30
7.
Christmas - I. Sledge
01:05
8.
Christmas - II. Lullaby
02:18
9.
Christmas - III. Christmas Carol
02:19
10.
Songs on Winter Nights op.30 - I. Song on a Moonlit Night
04:10
11.
Songs on Winter Nights op.30 - II. Song on a Stormy Night
02:20
12.
Songs on Winter Nights op.30 - III. Song on Christmas Night
06:48
13.
Songs on Winter Nights op.30 - IV. Song on Carnival Night
04:12
14.
Intimate Pieces op.17 - I. Andante con malinconia
03:01
15.
Intimate Pieces op.17 - II. Grave, con effusione
02:07
16.
Intimate Pieces op.17 - III. Andante con tenerezza
02:27
17.
Intimate Pieces op.17 - IV. Tempo di Valse
03:51
18.
Sonatina op.54 no.6 - I. Pastorale. Quasi allegretto
05:00
19.
Sonatina op.54 no.6 - II. Advent Matins Chant from the Time of Hus, Andante. Doppio movimento
04:59
20.
Christ the Lord is born
00:45

Total time: 01:07:36

Additional information

Label

SKU

COBRA0079

Qualities

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Channels

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Artists

Composers

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Genres

,

Cables

Acoustic Revive

Mastering Engineer

Tom Peeters

Microphones

Brüel & Kjaer 4003, Neumann modified by Rens Heijnis

Original Recording Format

Producer

Tom Peeters

Recording Engineer

Tom Peeters

Recording location

Westvest90, Schiedam, the Netherlands

Recording Software

Pyramix, Merging Technologies

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD 256

Release Date October 16, 2020

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Cobra Records 51 albums

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