Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Unlike his massive orchestral tone poems, most of Josef Suk’s piano music is smaller in scale and often elegiac in nature. Yet it also is skillfully and idiomatically deployed for keyboard, and you can only wonder why pianists generally ignore such substantial, imaginative, and communicative piano music.
Certainly the Op. 10 cycle’s opening Legend has everything a Romantically inclined virtuoso could wish for: soaring melodies, lush textures, just enough polyphony, and a grand climax. The Capriccio’s restless modulations and disarmingly humorous thematic material engage the mind
as much as they tickle the ears. The Dumka’s gorgeous lyricism and evocations of speech patterns add up to a miniature masterpiece: Rachmaninov meets Janácek, perhaps?
The 10 pieces encompassing Suk’s 35-minute-long piano cycle, Things lived and dreamt, find the composer in particularly inspired fettle. No. 5’s mutedly sardonic broken octaves and clipped phrases backed up by quirky arpeggios suggests an animated cartoon accompanied by late Liszt. No. 6 is akin to a Dvorák Slavonic Dance, but harmonically updated and rhythmically displaced. No. 14’s lilting demeanor and witty embellishments suggest a Czech rag, while the extraordinary final piece’s soft and sparse left-hand accompaniment and rhapsodic right-hand lines foreshadow similar textures in Messiaen’s bird-inspired works.
Pianist Karl-Andreas Kolly not only plays marvelously well from a technical standpoint, but he also understands how to use tone color to bring out each work’s appropriate atmosphere, and how to keep the underlying rhythms alive. Furthermore, his artistry is enhanced by MDG’s multi-channel concert hall ambience and the singular qualities of its 1901-vintage house Steinway grand. All I can say is that MDG ought to enlist Kolly to set down more Suk, and not just because Supraphon’s reference edition of the composer’s complete piano music with pianist Pavel Stepán is hard to source as of this writing. Enthusiastically recommended.
– ClassicsToday (Jed Distler) Read less
Works on This Recording
Moods (5), Op. 10 by Josef Suk
Karl Andreas Kolly (Piano)
Written: 1895; Bohemia
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