In THINGS LIVED AND DREAMED, a superbly played and curated recording by French-Canadian pianist Francine Kay, for the ANALEKTA label, an outstanding compilation of compositions by 19th century Czech masters Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček and Josef Suk is accompanied by several works by the lesser-known 20th century female pioneer Vítězslava Kaprálová. Several pieces by the immensely gifted and unjustly neglected Josef Suk round out the offerings.
The album’s selections range from three light-heartedly charming Dvořák Humoresques from the 1894 opus 101, including the beloved number 7, to an astringently dark 1904 Janáček sonata in two movements.
The lesser known and nonetheless immensely original Josef Suk was born in 1874 and lived well into the 20th century, evidencing in his works a truly forward-looking sensibility. He is represented in a revelatory way and more extensively than his compatriots with the suite Things Lived and Dreamed, the multi-faceted work that gives the album its compelling title.
Vítězslava Kaprálová’s works would surely have had wider recognition than they have, were it not for the young woman’s untimely death at the age of 25, while fleeing the Nazi occupation of her homeland. Her demise brought her composing career to a tragic end, although the impassioned extant works of hers represented in THINGS LIVED AND DREAMED reveal in their boldly free-wheeling use of dissonance and multi-tonality a defyingly modern sensibility mentored under the guidance of Bohuslav Martinů.
From Bedřich Smetana’s Czech Dances, the playful Polka No. 2 in A Minor brings THINGS LIVED AND DREAMED to a light-hearted conclusion.
Beautifully annotated and impeccable in technique and musicality on the part of the artist, exquisitely engineered by Clive Allen, and with Michel Fournier as the project’s artistic advisor, THINGS LIVED AND DREAMED is a gem of a musical journey that features both a return to the familiar and the exciting discovery of works unknown and, to this listener, the introduction of an impressive keyboard master by the name of Francine Kay.
Rafael de Acha © 2023