Ladislav Kyselak

Viola v Barokní Hudbe / The Viola in Baroque Music

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This Czech disc, recorded in 1995, doesn't just hark back to the big, conventional-instrument performances of Baroque music that were current in the 1950s and 1960s. It goes farther back than that, to the hyper-lyrical imagining of Albinoni's Adagio by an Italian musicologist, and ultimately to the Romantics' quasi-sacred view of Baroque music. Ladislav Kyselák's viola is rich, lyrical, and passionate, speeding up at cadences in a way that would have been familiar to Fritz Kreisler. He's accompanied by an organ that adds on a ringing upper register in order to give that little extra bit of oomph to the end of a movement. One work, a sonata (probably) by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, has a very tinkly harpsichord accompaniment instead. That's actually the most intriguing piece of the group; Wilhelm Friedemann, among all of Bach's sons, was the one who reflected the most palpable dissatisfaction at being a trained contrapuntist and a deep harmonic thinker who had the misfortune to be alive in the all-natural Classical era. But the harpsichord can't come close to standing up to Kyselák's viola in this performance. The origins of the music aren't discussed at all, and not all of it was even written for the viola. In short, this is a program you might have heard around the year 1925, and it has a certain amount of interest as a result. But it's only for listeners who resent the entire historical-performance movement without exception.

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