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Dvorak: Humoresques For Piano, American Suite/ Kvapil


Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Musical Concepts   Catalog #: 1044   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Radoslav Kvapil
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



DVO?ÁK Humoresques, op. 101. Suite in A, “American.” Dumka and Furiant, op. 12. Silhouettes, op. 8 Radoslav Kvapil (pn) ALTO 1044 (71:53)


In these 1998 recordings, Kvapil—to my mind the leading exponent of Czech piano music—plays the Bösendorfer that Dvo?ák acquired in 1879, on Read more and for which much of this music was composed. In his program notes, the pianist discusses the instrument’s low pitch (435 hz), its “short-sounding tone,” and its “old Viennese mechanism, which of necessity limits its opportunities for virtuosity.” His theory is that all of this contributed to the nature of the music; that Dvo?ák, like Chopin, composed for his particular instrument, whereas Beethoven, Schumann, and Liszt composed for an imagined instrument that would only later be built.


This piano is indeed very different from a modern Bösendorfer; its basic tone is dark and dusky, its lack of brilliance suiting the music perfectly. It suggests an aged, mellowed wine. It is not obvious, however, where to draw the line between the instrument and Kvapil’s personal magic, as this is a sound and an interpretive approach that he has cultivated on modern Steinways as well. He knows his music beyond the borders of Bohemia, too; the opening Moderato of the “American” Suite swings like Joplin, and the Allegretto suggests a Gottschalk cakewalk. The more one listens to this disc, the more one is drawn into Dvo?ák’s world. I am ready to believe that this is 19th-century music-making, and not just for the instrument’s period cachet. Its unfamiliar character, however, does make it difficult to evaluate the quality of the recorded sound.


The problem with this disc lies not with artist, instrument, or engineering. Dvo?ák was primarily a string-player (viola), and his piano music has always been regarded as a minor corner of his œuvre . Although his ubiquitous Humoresque No. 7 was composed for piano, it is far better known in the arrangements for violin and for orchestra. The “American” Suite, too, is more often heard in its orchestral revision (although the American connection is stronger on the piano), and both sets of Slavonic Dances originated as piano duets. All with good reason. I recommend this disc for its colorful recreation of another world, and for its historical interest, but I would much rather hear Brahms on this Bösendorfer: the intermezzos or the B? Concerto.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite for Piano in A major, Op. 98/B 184 "American" by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Radoslav Kvapil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; USA 
Length: 17 Minutes 10 Secs. 
2.
Dumka for Piano in C minor, Op. 12 no 1/B 136 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Radoslav Kvapil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Bohemia 
Length: 4 Minutes 23 Secs. 
3.
Silhouettes (12) for Piano, Op. 8/B 98 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Radoslav Kvapil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; Bohemia 
Length: 19 Minutes 25 Secs. 
4.
Humoresques (8) for Piano, Op. 101/B 187 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Radoslav Kvapil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Bohemia 
5.
Furiant for Piano in G minor, Op. 12 no 2/B 137 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Radoslav Kvapil (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Bohemia 
Length: 3 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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