Recorded following an acclaimed solo concert tour, renowned performer, composer and conductor Thomas Adès performs a collection of Leos Janácek’s works for piano. Nearly all of the music for solo piano written by Leoš Janácek (1854-1928) dates from before the First World War and thus belongs to the period before the composer’s remarkable late creative surge, which was triggered by the hugely successful 1916 production in Prague of his third opera, Jenufa (1894-1903; rev. 1907-8), and facilitated by his retirement from his teaching position at the Brno Organ School. Nevertheless, all three of Janácek’s major solo piano works – On an Overgrown Path (1900-1911), From the Street 1 October 1905 (1905-6) and In the Mists (1912-13) – contain music that is both profoundly individual and also integral to the now widespread view of the composer as one the most original musical voices of early twentieth-century music.
Adès’s account of On an Overgrown Path eschews sentimentality and refuses to duck the suppressed violence that occasionally erupts. His care shown over Janácek’s inner part writing is often revelatory, and he seems very much at one with the near improvisatory nature of these pieces. There is perhaps less delicacy in his approach to the more elusive soundworld of In The Mists, but his performance is impressive for its clarity and cohesion.
– BBC Music Magazine
It’s apparent from the get-go that Adès is determined to check all expressive clichés at the recording studio door, accept Janácek’s plain-spoken syntax and lack of artifice for what they are, and simply play the music straight. Adès seems less interested in colour or moody subtext than rendering text with intensive clarity in the two-movement Sonata. An illuminating release.