Source: Česká televize
By: Josef Rauvolf
Beata Hlavenková’s work defies classification. Every one of her projects is unique, and the same holds true for her new album Theodoros.
The difference between this album and her debut recording Joy For Joel is that here Hlavenková is solo, but there are differences too in the overall sound. Of course, solo piano cannot compete against a whole band, but here there is a sense of specific clarity and lucidity. Whereas the first album was something like an lavish banquet, each track richer than the next, Theodoros offers simpler fare, but nonetheless very nutritious.
Putting the culnary metaphors one one side for a moment and returning to the work, the title of the recordings and also the title of this article need to be explained. About this the pianist says, “My first album was called Joy for Joel and is named after my first son Mathias Joel – fantastic guest musicians, big sound and arrangements – music inspired by modern jazz. After the birth of my second son Theodor Elie I carried round the idea in my head that my second album would in some way relate to him. The Greek name Theodoros means gift of God – like Mathias in Hebrew. As I started to compose, I realised that the biggest gift of God for me is life, which consists of years, months, weeks, days. It seemed perfectly natural that the compositions would be named after months in the calendar.”
Just like every month, each individual composition changes, not obviously as a symbolic rendering in form – that would be too easy and frankly nothing new. So for instance November (although on the album the months are actually spelled in Greek) isn’t in the slightest melancholy. On the contrary, the rippling piano remind one of a spring thaw. Hlavenková speaks of her fascination with songs and their simplicity, and there are also other undertones – there are resonances of Bartók’s piano compositions in April for example, just as there are traces of impressionism in some of the other months.
So it should be said that although Beata Hlavenková is often labelled primarily as a jazz musician, (probably because most of her work has been with jazz musicians), Theodoros is definitely not a jazz recording. Yet thinking about it, neither is her work with Lenka Dusilová, be it Baromantika or the fantastic Eternal Seekers. Every project is self-contained. The tendency towards song forms has already been mentioned and each piece can be heard as a song arranged for vocal and piano – in the sense that every one of the months is encrypted with a clear melodic line. Although the general transparency of the compositions was mentioned at the beginning of this article, this is not to say that they reveal themselves in their entirety straight away. Like with the pianist’s debut album, every listen brings a different nuance. Praise also goes to the great recording of this lovely music (recorded on a Steinway in the hall of Ostrava’s Janáček Conservatory), as well as the imaginative and visually clean cover and booklet.
Out of interest were Beata Hlavenková to have any more offspring, how would the third album sound? Difficult to predict, but worth hazarding that it would be at least as delicious as the first two…