Smetana: Piano Music

Smetana: Piano Music
Composer Bedrich Smetana
Artist Roberto Plano piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 94788
EAN code 5028421947884
Release March 2014

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About this release

This will be quite a discovery for those who know the music of Bedrich Smetana only through his grand and nationalistic cycle of tone-poems, Ma Vlast, even if they are yet familiar with his more painfully intimate string quartets or his folkloristic operas. For Smetana, like most composers, needed to eat; and to do so he was happy to make his own contribution towards satisfying the seemingly insatiable appetite of the bourgeois 19th-century public for piano music that they could perform at home. Music of no great difficulty but boundless charm, these miniatures are now seldom heard and even less often recorded, and this is a shame, for works such as the Op.3 Characteristic Pieces show how the pianistic extroversion of Brahms and Liszt (who was a great admirer and supporter of the young Smetana, giving him valuable introductions to publishers) could be adapted to a domestic context, and with the particular inflection of Czech and Bohemian character, derived not only from simple and song-like melodies but also irregularly stressed dance-rhythms that the young Italian pianist Roberto Plano relishes to the full on this welcome new survey. As Plano himself remarks in the booklet notes for the release, the late works embody all the sincerity and essential poetry of the composer’s style, all the more treasurable for their emergence against the odds as Smetana battled with deafness and the mental illness that would cut short his life.

Other information:
- Recorded in 2013.
- This new recording shows another side of Smetana the great symphonist, composer of Ma Vlast and large scale operas. His piano music, though by no means “simple”, breathes the air of the Bohemian countryside: dance forms and poetic characterisations, romantic album leaves and melancholy tone paintings.
- Beautifully played by Italian pianist Roberto Plano, prize winner of several international competitions (Van Cliburn Competition), perfectly capturing the mood and atmosphere of this charming and attractive music.
- “This Italian pianist showed artistic maturity beyond his years… there was a wonderful clarity and control of inner voices in his performances.” (Anthony Tomassini, New York Times).

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Andante in E-Flat Major, JB1:62
  2. Pensée fugitive in D Minor, JB1:24
  3. Album Leaves Op. 2: I. Prelude. Allegro
  4. Album Leaves Op. 2: II. Chanson. Moderato
  5. Album Leaves Op. 2: III. Vivace
  6. Album Leaves Op. 2: IV. Allegro commodo, sempre marcato
  7. Album Leaves Op. 2: V. Moderato con anima
  8. Album Leaves Op. 2: VI. Andante ma non troppo
  9. Characteristic Pieces Op. 3: No. 1, To Robert Schumann
  10. Characteristic Pieces Op. 3: No. 2, Wayfarer’s Song
  11. Characteristic Pieces Op. 3: No. 3, “It boils and it roars”
  12. Sketches Op. 4: No. 1, Prelude
  13. Sketches Op. 4: No. 2, Idyll
  14. Sketches Op. 4: No. 3, Memory
  15. Sketches Op. 4: No. 4, Persistent Endeavour
  16. Sketches Op. 5: No. 1, Scherzo – Polka
  17. Sketches Op. 5: No. 2, Melancholy
  18. Sketches Op. 5: No. 3, Friendly Landscape
  19. Sketches Op. 5: No. 4, Rhapsody
  20. Album Leaf in B-Flat Major, JB1:46 (Allegretto ma non troppo)
  21. Album Leaf in B Minor, JB1:32 (Allegro)
  22. Album Leaf, JB1:53 (Toccatina)
  23. Album Leaf in G Major, JB2:21 (Trio)
  24. Album Leaf in E-Flat Minor, JB1:54 (Lento)
  25. Album Leaf in B-Flat Minor, JB1:52 (Con moto)
  26. Album Leaf for Katerina Kolarova, JB1:20 (Moderato)
  27. Album Leaf for Elisabeth F. Thun, JB1:25 (Allegro)
  28. Album Leaf for Josephine Finke, JB1:21 (Agitato)
  29. Album Leaf for Jean Kunz, JB1:22 (Allegro)
  30. Album Leaf for Václav Ulwer, JB1:23 (Grave)
  31. Album Leaf for Marie Proksch, JB1:81 (Moderato)
  32. Album Leaf in F Minor, JB1:117 (Andante)
  33. Album Leaf in G Minor, JB1:121 (Romance)