Czech Piano Classics

 

Musical Concepts is proud to feature several compilations of piano music by the most important of Czech composers: Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana, Leos Janacek, Josef Suk, Bohuslav Martinu, Vitezslav Novak, Zdenek Fibich, and Jan Vaclav Vorisek.  These works are performed by the internationally-renown Czech pianist Radoslav Kvapil, who has done much to advance the cause of his countrymen’s exquisite compositions.  Please read below to learn more about these titles, to read reviews and track listings, and to find links to purchase these recordings.


Antonin DvorakBedrich SmetanaLeos Janacek

More after the jump…

 

Anthology of Czech Piano Music, Volume I

This survey of great Czech solo piano masterpieces played by the elder statesman of Czech pianists, Radoslav Kvapil, includes hard-to-find, acclaimed recordings originally issued by Unicorn Records and available again after nearly two decades. Also includes new, previously unreleased recordings. This set is an essential addition to the library of all piano music lovers.

“Radoslav Kvapil’s playing… is miraculously surefooted and full of bounding insights. He is a virtuoso of finger dexterity, revelation of mood and narrative arch.” (Rob Barnett, Musicweb International)

Anthology of Czech Piano Music, Volume II

A second collection of rare piano classics from Dvorak, Fibich, Martinu, Smetana, and Vorisek.  Includes two discs of Dvorak music played on the composer’s own Bosendorfer piano. Kvapil’s knowledge and understanding of Czech piano music is unrivaled, and his adroitness on the keyboard surely will delight all listeners.

“Kvapil plays with great understanding, deft and sensitive… [not] as a mere bag of sweets… Whenever Martinu gestures, Kvapil knows exactly what the reference is and where it would lead eventually… Illuminating as well as entertaining.  Anyone can take pleasure in Kvapil’s expert, sensitive performances, which touch delicately on the emotions beneath the surface.”  (Gramophone)

The following six solo piano albums are included in the two anthologies above:

Bedrich Smetana: Polkas, Bagatelles, & Impromptus

Kvapil turns his attention to countryman Bedrich’s Smetana‘s work in this exciting, lively collection.

“Kvapil is entirely inside this repertoire… a highly sensitive exponent” (Penguin Guide)

“[The Dances] should be better known, and domestic pianists would find a good many of them well within finger-reach; anyone can take pleasure in Kvapil’s expert, sensitive performances, which touch delicately on the emotions lying beneath the music’s surface.”  (Gramophone)

Antonin Dvorak: Piano Works Played on Dvorak’s Own Bösendorfer Piano, Volume I

Original piano music of composer Antonín Dvořák played on his own carefully restored and maintained 1879 Bösendorfer piano by Radoslav Kvapil, recognized as one of the world’s finest exponents of Czech piano music.  Musical Concepts’ first release of Kvapil on piano!

Antonin Dvorak: Piano Works Played on Dvorak’s Own Bösendorfer Piano, Volume II

A brilliant second collection of piano music performed on Dvorák‘s own piano.  Includes: Valses (Op. 54), Eclogues (B 103), and Pièces pour piano (Op. 52).

“Preoccupation with authenticity persuaded Kvapil to record on the Bösendorfer… the outspoken freshness of the sweet timbres of the instrument testify to the precise sound the composer had available to compose with.” (La Montagne, Paris)

“Kvapil has an exemplary approach to Dvorák: his imagination always alert, his gestures always spontaneous, he thus establishes a benchmark with this new collection, finding as before the most eloquent phrases, the most sparkling, and the most expressive that he can.” (Repertoire magazine, Paris)

Vitezslav Novak: Piano Music

Never before available — this new recording brings together a selection of solo piano works by twentieth century Czech composer Vitezlav Novak.

“This is a rare bird indeed – a very recent recording from that grandee of Czech music: Radoslav Kvapil.  May there be many more for his powers have not waned. … Miraculously surefooted and full of insight. Kvapil is a virtuoso of dexterity, mood and narrative. (Rob Barnett, Musicweb International)

Leos Janacek: Piano Music

The most celebrated piano works of Leos Janacek. The cycles “On an Overgrown Path” and “In the Mists” are popular repertoire and have been used in films, and the Piano Sonata (“1.X.1905”) is also among Janacek’s best-regarded works. Kvapil delivers these haunting and moody works with both delicacy and strength, evoking the restlessness inherent in the pieces.

“[Kvapil] characterizes the changing moods of the ‘Overgrown Path’ suite with a sure touch, but keeps them in a proper contrast… He makes them relate to one another within a general mood. That is one, generally, of griefs remembered… one along which this most self honest of composers had trodden…  A similar understanding of contrast distinguishes the four beautiful pieces of ‘In the Mists,’ which are marked by a dignified sadness that Kvapil understands well.”  (Gramophone)

Bedrich Smetana: Dances & Dreams for Piano

Hailed as the father of Czech music, Bedrich Smetana is most famously known for his operatic and orchestral works. Radoslav Kvapil delivers a sensitive and powerful performance of these remarkable piano pieces that will delight both new-comers and those already knowledgeable of Smetana’s oeuvre.

“Smetana’s real originality is better revealed in the shorter pieces… Comparisons with Chopin and the mazurka, there is something of the same ability to take a national dance and turn it into a vehicle for far-reaching harmonic and rhythmic explorations.” (Gramophone)

“Anyone can take pleasure in Kvapil’s expert, sensitive performances, which touch delicately on the emotions lying beneath the music’s surface.” (Gramophone)

 

Two titles of Czech chamber works performed by Radoslav Kvapil with accompaniment:

Antonin Dvorak: Cypresses

“Cypresses [is] played with real sympathy for Dvorak’s fertile early lyricism… Dvorak’s arrangements are imaginative and skillful, and played complete, in his order, they make a lovely sequence – a collection of “Songs without Words’ more consistent than Mendelssohn”s cycles…  The Terzetto is a more substantial piece altogether, though there are plenty of echoes of the melodic freshness of Cypresses…  For once, the epithet “charming” hits the mark.” (Gramophone)

 

Leos Janacek: Works for Piano, Violin, and Cello


Superb chamber works by Janacek:

Leos Janacek is one of the finest of Czech composers, developing a national idiom along with Dvorak and Smetana, though his work is not as well known as his contemporary countrymen.  His work spans from the folkloristic to the nationalistic and modern. This collection highlights some of his best chamber pieces for piano, cello, and violin. For MP3 download only