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David Kettle
The Strad, September 2012

An invigorating disc of music from a post-War Czech modernist…it has a sound word that’s immediately striking…and cellist Eugen Prochac really lets rip in the piece’s jagged melodies and theatrical flourishes with dramatic, often fiery playing. Violinist Juraj Cizmarovic’s bright-toned playing has just the right rhythmic bite and she and Prochac bounce off each other to delightful effect. © 2012 The Strad

William Hedley
MusicWeb International, July 2012

The Cello Concerto is very much a work of its time. The music is hyperactive and immediately striking. I have listened to it four times and am still only beginning to discern its form and its aims. The instrumental ensemble is made up of five fairly unrelated instruments plus an extensive percussion section, and the first impression is one of unrelieved scratching, blowing and—especially—bashing. This kneejerk reaction is modified on subsequent hearings, during which one begins to hear a much wider range of instrumental colour and thematic content. The cello writing is highly challenging, and rarely exploits the instrument’s singing capacities. There are aleatoric elements in the work, but I have not seen a score and would certainly not be able to identify where they occur. The work is a compelling one, but it does not give up its secrets easily. The performance seems sensationally surefooted and committed.

One’s first reaction is that this is to be a challenging disc. This turns out to be only partly the case, as later in the composer’s career he turned more and more to folk music, integrating it into his own, modernist style. Twenty years later, for example, in the Slovak Concerto Grosso No. 3—Salva adopted this title for several of his chamber works—the music is far more tonal and with perfectly audible folk influence. It is still packed with incident, with only a few points of repose occurring in the last of the three movements. The instrumental writing is highly inventive, and this is a most attractive and enjoyable work overall.

If the Cello Concerto barely makes use of the instrument’s singing power, the Little Suite makes up for it. That feature, combined with a musical language even more tonal and consonant than that of the Concerto Grosso, combine to make this work more approachable still. In addition should be noted the real distinction and attractiveness of the musical ideas. The Three Arias are less immediately attractive but repay no less repeated listening.

This is a useful introduction to [Tadeás Salva’s] work. Eugen Prochác is a very fine cellist indeed, and I should be very fascinated to hear him in more central repertoire. He is joined on this disc by a number of other Slovak instrumentalists. With world-class playing such as this, they are indeed splendid ambassadors for the composer.

Anyone with an interest in the byways of modern music should not miss this disc. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2012

Tadeáš Salva was born in Slovakia in 1937 and looked to be heading towards a career as a cellist, but instead chose to study as a composer. Finding academic life in his native country unsatisfying, he moved to the College of Music in the Polish city of Katowice, there coming under the influences of Lutosławski and the young Penderecki. His first mature years find him totally immersed in atonality, but like Penderecki, and many of that era, he eventually turned back from that dead-end road. The present disc is given to works featuring the cello, the earliest, the Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra completed in 1967 and is in two linked movements lasting around twelve minutes. Often pitting the soloist against orchestral outbursts, it is strenuous for all concerned. Twenty years later came the third Slovak Concerto Grosso scored for violin, cello and organ, its basic material coming from the folk music that delivers tonality, and anyone coming to Salva’s music would be advised to start here, as its three movements are readily pleasing to the ear. Two years later the Little Suite for cello and piano continues in its use of melody, each movement short and ending with a happy Rondo. Three Arias, for the same instruments, revert to a more astringent mood, though the bell-like accompaniment makes for a fascinating finale. Eight Preludes for Two Cellos was an incomplete work at the time of his death, and would, no doubt, have eventually numbered twenty-four. Virtuoso in its demands, it intertwines the two instruments in fascinating patterns. The brilliant Slovak cellist, Eugen Prochac, plays throughout and is joined by the pianist Nora Skuta, in the Arias and Suite. The Slovak Radio Symphony is forthright in the Concerto, but where have these recordings of such outstanding quality been hiding, some dating back eight years? Much recommended to the inquisitive. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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