EntArteOpera Festival: Concertos by Smyth, Kapralova, K Hartmann and Martinů
Reinhard Wieser, Milena Viotti, Thomas Albertus Irnberger, Michael Korstick; Orchestra Wiener Concert-Verein/Doron Salomon, Israel Chamber Orchestra and Georgian Chamber Orchestra Ingolstadt/Martin Sieghart (Gramola)
Concertos by Smyth, Kapralova, K Hartmann and Martinů
Reinhard Wieser (clarinet), Milena Viotti (horn), Thomas Albertus Irnberger (violin), Michael Korstick (piano); Orchestra Wiener Concert-Verein/Doron Salomon, Israel Chamber Orchestra and Georgian Chamber Orchestra Ingolstadt/Martin Sieghart
Gramola GRAM 99098 (hybrid CD/SACD) 89:12 mins (2 discs)
‘Degenerate’ was the term used by the Nazis to describe any music that didn’t fit their cultural agenda, of which there was plenty. All power, then, to the EntArteOpera Festival which is dedicated to bringing to light the composers banned or supressed in that horrific era. These two discs take us from Smyth’s spirited Double Concerto, hewn from the world of Elgar and Brahms, to Hartmann’s bleak Concerto funebre, mourning the Nazi invasion of Prague. It makes for a fascinating programme, added to which three of the four works are rarities on disc.
Thomas Albertus Irnberger is the versatile, communicative violinist in all four violin and double concertos, joined by three assured soloists on horn, clarinet and piano. He’s been quietly amassing an impressively broad discography – including the complete Beethoven violin sonatas and recordings of female composers. But with three different orchestras – the recordings date from 2014 to 2016 – quality does vary. Both the Hartmann and Martinů performances feel undercooked. It’s the Smyth and Kapralova, two of the seven women showcased in 2016, performed with the Wiener Concert-Vermin, that make this recording worth having. A timely reminder of Smyth’s fame in her day, her Double Concerto for Violin and Horn (1929) is at its most powerful in the nostalgic central elegy. Kapralova’s Concertino for Violin and Clarinet (1939) is sparkier and punchier. Yet there’s an ineffable poignancy about this incomplete piece. The music peters out, fading into silence. Kapralova died a year later of typhoid, just 25, in exile from her homeland.