- Gunma Symphony Orchestra (527th subscription concert)
15th April, Gunma Music Center, Joseph WOLFE (conductor),
Michal KANKA (vc),
Elgar: 'Elegy', 'Cello Concerto' and 'Symphony No. 1'
Joe WOLFE is a conductor who, while based in England with the London Symphony
Orchestra and others, has also performed numerous times as guest conductor in
Japan. He is also the son of Sir Colin David. On this day was an ambitious programme
of all-Elgar works, which appears to be Wolfe's own speciality. Certainly in
the 'Elegy', the opening work, he created a sentimentality which also entreats
for memorial and repose in the midst of tranquillity, as a hushed and reverent
The soloist for the next work, the 'Cello Concerto', was Michal Kanka. He was
the recipient of the highest award at the ARD International Music Competition,
is also known as a member of the Prazak string quartet. His delicate formation
as seen overall was impressive. Above all, his attacks were gentle, which he
expressed with poise, and with a fluently beautiful tone and colour. The bow
pressure as he transitioned from the end of a phrasing to the next one was just
superb, and he brought forth with an introspective and tender sentimental lyricism.
Meanwhile, the 4th movement was lively and full of passion, and the entire work
was vividly put together with ever-changing emotions at will by tempo variations.
Performed next was the 'Symphony No. 1', where [Wolfe] of course showed his seasoned
abilities exquisitely in presenting the motto theme, and in his handling when
it occasionally appeared. Although [the presentation] wasn't completely difficulty-free
in individual instruments etc., it was woven through densely and emotionally
with no lack of musical flow and tension.
Yudai MAJIMA (critic)
Newspaper (evening edition), 20th May 2017
Michal KANKA - Cello recital
Poetry of sounds without words
The Kyoto Concert Hall (Sakyo Ward, Kyoto Prefecture) chamber music series
'KITAYAMA Classic Club Series', where one can enjoy an atmosphere of relaxing
music and which are performed at the small hall [Ensemble Hall Murata], is
now in its second year,. On 18 April, Czech cellist Michal Kanka made his appearance
for a performance.
Kanka is a genius who provides excitement to his listeners with provocative
selections of music, which includes having played 12 unaccompanied works in
2013 in Osaka. On this day, he gave a joint performance with pianist Iku MIWA
with a programme only of Schumann and Rachmaninoff works.
The Schumann 'Adagio and Allegro' created a Romantic school feeling in one
go with the deep breath of the first note. Miwa's piano playing was also soft,
and felt like a reliably authentic response.
The richness of the shadows by the varicoloured bow handling in the second
piece and the liveliness of the expectation of impatient stagnation in the
third piece were indeed songs, and by extension 'songs without words', a poetry
of sounds without words.
In the Rachmaninoff work performed in the latter half, the story-telling changed
In the 'Melodie' Op. 3-3, the music made its way down into the depths of bass
sound, breathing from the clear singing of the mid-range sound, and finally
disappearing as if ascending the heavens. This was an excellent short piece
played as one long-drawn breath.
The well-known 'Vocalise' was put together in a duet style - not sung with
the same tone, but with the spotlight on the piano in the latter half.
Lastly, in the 'Cello Sonata', I could feel that if Kanka seriously aspires
to glorious music, then Miwa's steady piano was just a little lacking. However,
to that extent the exquisite aspect of this work, which resembles Chopin last
sonatas, could be seen.
Tomo-o SHIRAISHI (critic)
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