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Martinu: Complete Piano Music, Vol 4 / Giorgio Koukl


Release Date: 12/11/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570215   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Koukl has cast his net wisely and well, mixing established classics with works that none but a manuscript editor would have heard.

The intrepid Giorgio Koukl has now reached volume four in his estimable and important series devoted to the solo piano works. He fuses acute appreciation of dance and rhythmic patterns with questions of sonority. And he is at all times conscious of the scale of things. This is important given that he now turns to a number of works that have never been recorded before – there are nine such in this disc.

The programme is cleverly constructed. Compositional dates range from 1913 to 1957 – pretty much the entire span of his active life – and allow us to see more clearly the sheer
Read more range of influences and preoccupations, from pre-Parisian jeux d’esprit to the late in memoriam piece for Vít?zslava Kaprálová.

The recital begins with Seven Czech Dances "Borova" H 195 – one of the better-known works. Martin? collectors will long have leaned on the Supraphon set recorded by Emil Leichner. And though other players have ventured into the discographical waters – there’s a series on Tudor for instance - it’s to Leichner that adherents have generally looked in this repertoire; rightly so, as he’s an impressive guide. There’s little between Koukl and Leichner in these seven dances except perhaps in No.7 where Leichner is the quicker and perhaps the more biting. The recording qualities vary with Koukl’s sounding a touch harder and therefore both more incisive and less intimate.

Les ritournelles H 227 sees Koukl quicker than Leichner in all movements and there are correspondingly big differences in characterisation throughout. Koukl is not inclined to reprise --Leichner’s rather more seigniorial approach – and the former’s playing is stylish, committed and energetic. Both men bring a remarkably different sound world in their disparate approaches to one of the composer’s most exciting sets though neither is as fast as Firkušný in his RCA traversal [74321 886822 – an all-Martin? two CD set which includes concerto performances]. No one can really match Firkušný’s tonal qualities and sheer vitality either.

The Dumka for Piano No 2 “Elegie” H 250 is a piece of substance and the Adagio was written for Vít?zslava Kaprálová and her father in 1957, towards the end of the composer’s life. It sounds strangely Beethovenian but not overtly lachrymose – there’s a strong stoic vein running through it, Martin? binding its rhetoric to ages past. Other pieces, especially the nine previously unrecorded ones, are of slighter import but exciting for the Completist. Some last for less than a minute. Pro tanec (For Dancing) has a touch of Ježek about it but Rujana is more intriguing. It’s a seascape – very unusually for the composer - but its writing is too rugged for impressionism; maybe pictorialism would fit the stylistic bill better. Still – a valuable restoration. The Prelude No.2 in F minor bears its Chopinesque imprint strongly; there are a couple of bizarrely named titles as well that together last less than two minutes - Instructive Duo for the Nervous and Procession of the Cats on Solstice Night. These are both School of Paris inspirations.

So Koukl has cast his net wisely and well, mixing established classics of Martin?’s piano canon with works that none but a manuscript editor would have heard. The result is that volume four proves indispensable to the Martin? completist. Don’t expect revelations from the previously unrecorded pieces but they do round out his enthusiasms and preoccupations very nicely. There is, one hopes, still more to come from this series, which will make it an important contribution to Martin? studies on disc for years to come.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Dumka for Piano no 3, H 285b by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; New York, USA 
2.
Czech Dances (7) "Borova" by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; Paris, France 
3.
Les ritournelles by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
4.
Albumblatt for Piano, H 241 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; Paris, France 
5.
Improvisation for Piano, H 333 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; New York, USA 
6.
Dumka for Piano no 2, H 250 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Czechoslovakia 
7.
In memoriam by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; Switzerland 
8.
For Dancing by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Paris, France 
9.
Dumka for Piano no 1, H 249 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Czechoslovakia 
10.
Bagatelle for Piano by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
11.
Rujana by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
12.
Barcarolle for Piano, H 326 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; New York, USA 
13.
Mouvements (4) for Piano, H 170 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Paris, France 
14.
Preludes (8) for Piano by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; France 
15.
Mazurka for Piano, H 284 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; New York, USA 

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