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Dvorák considered himself only a modest pianist (he was a string player), and his music for piano has for long been neglected and considered of secondary importance to his symphonies, concertos and chamber works.
Whilst undoubtedly true, the output for solo piano does contain some of his more mundane efforts, closer study of the music reveals some gems well worth getting to know, and that all contain his innate gift for melody.
His largest work featuring piano, the G major piano concerto has finally made some headway in the concert repertoire, and has always been championed by leading pianists – Richter and Aimard to name just two. The piano trios, quartets and the quintet all have effective piano parts, and are well laid out for the pianist.
So why has the solo piano music been so neglected? These works span his entire creative life, from the simple little Polka in E of 1860, to the Theme and Variations, Suite in A, and the Humoresques of 1894. These last three works are his masterpieces for piano, and indeed the Seventh Humoresque in G became very famous due its use in a Joan Crawford film in 1946, and through arrangements by Fritz Kreisler and Art Tatum. The Suite in A, dating from his time in America (where he composed his Ninth Symphony ‘From the New World’) is better known today in its orchestral version. These CDs contain some wonderful little known music by one the best loved composers – music that deserves a wider audience.
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.