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Janacek - Intimate Studies
Intimate Studies is the innovative debut release from Czech pianist Lada Valešová who developed a fresh and intriguing programme of works that link both teacher and student alike during the early part of the 20th century. The CD features 20th century piano music composed by four of her native country’s leading composers: “In the Mist” (Janácek), “Suite for Piano Op.13” and “Allegro Moderato” (Haas), “Film en Miniature H.148” (Martinu) and “Spring Op.22a” (Suk).
Of particular note is the performance of a rare collection of eleven tone poems and studies, some complete miniature works, some unfinished kernels of ideas written by Janacek under the collected title: “Intimate Studies”.
Born in Pilsen in the Western part of the Czech Republic, Lada Valešová is a graduate of the Prague Conservatoire, Prague Music Academy and Guildhall School of Music and Drama (where she is now a professor). Lada has won many prizes including two awards at the International Smetana Piano Competition. Her teachers include the Russian pianist and pedagogue Valentina Kameníková and Eugene Indjic, the outstanding pianist and pupil of Arthur Rubinstein. Her playing has received high recognition from various artists including the late Sir George Solti, and she has had the honour of working with Galina Vishnevskaja and Mstislav Rostropovich.
“Fascinating juxtapositions of a familiar and unfamiliar Czech piano music. Avie's sound is excellent if a shade clinical. All in all, this is a thoroughly recommendable disc.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2009
“The Czech Republic has produced some outstanding composers, thanks to a chain of remarkable teaching which has its origin in Dvorák. He encouraged Janácek, and looked on his son-in-law Suk as his favourite pupil; Suk taught Martinú and Janácek taught Haas. This extraordinary succession covers more than 100 years of musical development, charted here by pianist Lada Valesova, who contrasts celebrated cycles such as Janácek's In the Mist and Suk's Spring with obscure, delicious miniatures, played with an instinctive intelligence that only a Czech can bring to this beguiling repertoire.” The Observer, 28th June 2009
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Martinu - Jeux & other Piano Works
Martinu’s piano oeuvre comprises more than 200 compositions (some of which were dedicated to the outstanding pianists R. Firkušný and R. Serkin) and has duly been paid great attention to.
• However, a number of fascinating miniatures have remained overlooked by performers, with some of them being presented for the very first time on this CD. The minor pieces, often arranged into tiny cycles, are most notable for their playful atmosphere and rhythmic inventiveness.
• The first cycle (Jeux I) from the composer’s mature Paris period reflects the huge popularity of jazz at the time, while in another cycle (Film en miniature) the author’s erstwhile enchantment with Impressionism is still evident.
• Martinu’s piano version of the jazz ballet The Kitchen Revue, which immediately after its premiere (1927) met with unprecedented acclaim, has been completely overlooked and hitherto unreleased. This composition too can be heard on our CD in premiere.
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Martinu - Complete Piano Music Volume 2
The Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu was highly prolific, with over 400 works in many forms to his credit. In this second CD of his piano works, we have three sets of Puppets, written between 1912 and 1924. These and his Film in Miniature of 1925 reflect Martinu's fascination with popular culture.
The two sets of Garden Cycles from 1920 predate the composer's move to Paris. The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon is dedicated to Hsien-Ming Lee Tcherepnin, the Chinese-born pianist and that composer's wife, while Les Bouginistes is dedicated to his own wife Charlotte - both written in New York in 1948.
Martinu was an enormously prolific composer, who seemed often enough careless of the fate of what he had written. He tended to avoid revision of his work and in consequence the vast quantity of music he wrote is of uneven quality and varying style, although he came, in the 1930s, to make increasing use of Czech thematic material and to be identified with his native country, from which he remained an exile.
“Koukl’s performances…are very warmly recorded but this is a splendid disc despite that. Recommended.” Gramophone Magazine
(also available to download from $6.00)
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Czech Avantgarde 1918-1938 - Piano Music
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