Both Viktor Kalabis’ Cello and Clarinet sonatas were written in the shadow of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Both are marked by it and display a brooding, sometimes almost obsessive quality wholly understandable given Kalabis’ own feelings of helplessness and protest.
The Cello Sonata was finished the month after the August 1968 invasion and reveals a strenuous intensity occasionally leavened by refined, elegant paragraphs; moments of reprieve amidst the shadows. The slow movement most intensely bears the obsessive elements noted above, a product of rhythmic insistence not unlike Prokofiev’s, allied to an intensely introspective tolling motif. As with his slightly later Clarinet sonata the finale is longer than the first two movements put together. Here one finds a long, expressive lament contextualised into taut driving rhythms. The sonata ends with unresolved tension, quietly. Read the full review.