The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: A masterfully played exploration of the Czech violin tradition
Musicians: Pavel Šporcl (violin) Petr Jiříkovský (piano)
Composer: Kocian, Laub, Drdla, Kubelík, Ondříček, Příhoda, Sevcík & Šporcl

Pavel Šporcl goes from strength to strength with a recital of Czech music dedicated to his teacher Václav Snitil (part of the great line extending back to Jaroslav Kocian and Otakar Šev?ík) performed on a magnificent ‘blue’ violin made by Jan Špidlen in 2005 and a bow by Petr Au?edník. There are many pieces here that deserve to be far better known, including Ferdinand Laub’s G major Polonaise (worthy to stand beside Wieniawski’s two classic contributions to the genre), František Drdla’s salonesque Souvenir, Kocian’s enchanting Serenade in D and Šporcl’s own Bohemian Nostalgia.  

Šporcl’s sparklingly seductive approach to these miniature enchantments is exemplified by Kocian’s Intermezzo pittoresque, whose lively outer sections are articulated by effortlessly thrown harmonics and gently articulated flying spiccato. The lyrical central section is kept nicely flowing, allowing the instrument’s natural resonances to blossom unimpeded by excessive downward pressure.

Šporcl dispatches chains of octaves and 6ths with disarming naturalness, as witness František Ond?í?ek’s memorable Barcarolle, and catches the dancing abandonment of Laub’s Saltarello to a tee, enhanced by the recording’s radiantly glowing acoustic. He could hardly wish for a more responsive accompanist than Petr Ji?íkovský, long-time playing partner of Shlomo Mintz.

Julian Haylock