A Dynamic, Edgy Solo Album From Violinist Barbora Kolářová
Violinist Barbora Kolářová calls obscure repertoire her “biggest passion.” There’s plenty to get passionate about on her latest album, Imp in Impulse, streaming at Bandcamp. It includes both a world premiere as well as two other partitas for solo violin which should be better known than they are.
The title track is a caprice by Pascal Le Boeuf, who’s better known for jazz than he is new classical music. The central theme is the irony of trusting one’s intuition: seemingly impulsive leaps are often informed by considerably deep faith. Kolářová tackles this mashup with aplomb, her shivery waves, mini-cadenzas and hypnotically rhythmic gestures giving way to wry evocations of turntable-scratching and eventual microtonal haze. A bit of a sad Appalachian-inflected waltz shifts to an insistent, jaggedly pulsing coda.
The centerpiece is her puckish interpretation of Jean Françaix’s 1980 Theme with 8 Variations for Solo Violin, a bracing, incisive series of short pieces equally informed by the baroque, the Romantic and afterward. Sweeping, dramatic yet often allusive melody alternates with emphatic pizzicato. marvelously ghostly harmonics and a coyly chromatic coda. Françaix is underrated. His music for organ, in particular, is purposeful, lyrical and worth seeking out.
The inspiration, thematicallly if hardly idiomatically, for Moravian composer Klement Slavický’s Partita for Solo Violin is Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. The counterpoint is more oblique, maybe because the composer leaves it up to the performer to figure out the rhythmic architecture. Kolářová leaps, sails, swoops and trills, often with shivery high harmonics and a starkly piercing tone. The plaintive second movement and utterly morose second half of the fourth are riveting. It’s a strong choice of closer.