Blagoje Bersa was a major figure in Croatian musical life, his compositions a compound of Mediterranean, Central European and Balkan elements. His piano music, of which this recording is Volume 1, reveals a rich diversity drawn from Classical and Romantic models, encompassing charming Chopinesque barcarolles, a melancholic Notturno, a stirring Liszt-inspired Fantaisie-Impromptu, beautiful balletic miniatures and the Brahmsian grandeur of the powerfully conceived Sonata in F minor. Goran Filipec, recent laureate of the Grand Prix du Disque of the Ferenc Liszt Society of Budapest for his album "Paganini Studies" (Naxos Records, 2016), is a musician who never fail to capture the hearts of music audiences and critics. Equally known for his interpretations of standard piano repertoire as for discoveries of forgotten musical gems, this sovereign pianist of fiery energy and profiled artistic personality cultivates a particular leaning towards the classical and romantic repertoire and works of pronounced virtuosity.
Where has this turn-of-the-20th century composer's amazing piano music been hiding all these years? It's colorful, unabashedly virtuoso, and quite substantial. The 1897 Sonata might be described as Strauss's confident soaring melodies and Rimsky-Korsakov's exoticism served up by Rachmaninov, Busoni, and Medtner jostling for room on the piano bench.
Goran Filipec's performances left me stunned and speechless from the first notes. He commands a transcendental technique and possesses an unflappable sonority that refuses to splinter. The label's vibrant sound does both pianist and composer ample justice. This release cannot be recommended highly enough.