Krása: Chamber Music (complete)

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LABELS: Praga Digitals
WORKS: Chamber Music (complete)
PERFORMER: Zuzana RuÞzŠícŠková (harpsichord); Czech Soloists, Kocian Quartet
Hans Krása is best known for his captivating children’s opera, Brundibár, performed in the so-called ‘paradise ghetto’ of Terezín before he, like so many others, was murdered in Auschwitz. This complete recording of his chamber music broadens the picture of this remarkable composer considerably. Although Krása had affinities with Schoenberg and Zemlinsky, he drew inspiration from many contemporary sources, neo-classicism and popular music among them. The fascinating Chamber Music for harpsichord and seven instruments manages to combine a kind of homage to Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto with jazz influences in a way that draws him close to his Czech near-contemporary, Martinu. The popular affinities are even clearer in the Theme and Variations for string quartet, which like the Chamber Music is based on a ballad-like song Krása composed for a musical play. A more explicitly national side is to be heard in the Dance for string trio, with its echoes of JanácŠek. This is a fascinating and rewarding collection played with commitment and a strong feeling for style. A must for anyone interested in Central European inter-war repertoire. Jan Smaczny