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Viera Janárčeková - Dotyk [Kairos Music - 2023]

Dotyk collections together four examples of modern chamber music from Slovakenin composer Viera Janárčeková. Her work is often unpredictable- both tonally, and in its composition layout, which makes this CD primed perfectly for those who enjoy more adventurous & unbalancing chamber music.

The CD appears on Austria’s Kairos- who are one of the more prolific, though still consistent labels releasing work from in the modern classic-to-modern composition worlds. With the CD coming presented in the labels house style four-panel digipak & stuck on glossy booklet packaging. The inlay booklet is in colour & black and white- running at thirty-one pages. Taking in write-ups about Viera Janárčeková, those who play the pieces featured, and talk about each piece too.

Viera Janárčeková was born in Svit, Slovakia in 1941. She first studied harpsichord and piano at the State Conservatory in Bratislava, before continuing her studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. After completing her education in 1967 she taught music and performed as a pianist. Since 1972 she has resided in Homberg, Germany- working actively as a composer since 1981. Though she is a pianist she is most known/ respected for her chamber work. She sadly passed away in May of 2013.

The release opens with “Arkádia” which was composed in 1998, though this new version is from 2021. The just shy of seventeen-minute piece is for strings & bass flute. It opens with a sort of brooding bass hover, which is slowly circled by string malevolence. With the flute at first furtively pushing out of the string tones with its own vibrating to forking feeling of unease. As we move on both elements seem to further detach from each other- creating rapidly droning-to-suddenly searing peaks & valleys of discord, and sonic unease- with at points one feeling like you are in a dizzying & disorientation sonic free fall. As the work goes on it becomes drowsier-to-fitful in its shifts, and really towards its resolve you feel very shaky on your sonic ground.

Next, we have “Dotyk” which is from 1996, and is for string orchestration. The just over eleven-minute piece is built around shifting layers of fiddle, bow, and simmer- with at points these become rather searing, intense & violent in their intent. Again there is a feeling of discord- though this time we get the additional tension, and growing anger.


Track number three is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from 2008, and this piece is for flute, cello, and piano. The just shy of seventeen-minute work is built around both waywardly galloping & violently fleeting tones. And you certainly will feel very awake and on edge with this track- as it rarely lets up with its manic dart ‘n’ flit.

Finally, we have 2008’s “Concerto per pianoforte”. This is for full-string orchestra and piano, and it’s the longest work here at nearing the twenty-five-minute mark. The work again is all about unbalance-ment & wrong footed-ness, as we find rapidly sweeping & swooning layers of strings, meeting suddenly bounding & shifting key work. There are sudden dips in both pace & depth of the work- but fairly soon we pushed back up to heady-yet-malevolent heights.

As a collection, Dotyk highlights Janárčeková talent for creating engaging and truly enveloping discord. One for those who enjoy chamber music, that’s unpredictable & at times queasy in its sonic gravity.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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