Kathryn Stott Plays Smetana - Dreams (2007)

Kathryn Stott Plays Smetana - Dreams (2007)

Artist: Kathryn Stott Plays Smetana
Title Of Album: Dreams
Year Of Release: Jun 5 2007
Label: Chandos
Genre: Classical, Piano
Quality: MP3 / Joint Stereo
Bitrate: 192 kbit/s / 44.1 Khz
Total Time: 68 minutes
Total Size: 93,5 megs
Filling a gap in the 19th century piano repertoire that many listeners would not have suspected was there, this excellent 2006 disc by English pianist Kathryn Stott of piano music by Bohemian composer Bedrich Smetana serves its purpose admirably. Opening with the half-hour long, six movement cycle Dreams and closing with several piquant Czech Dances, the program shows Smetana to have been a composer not only of ethnic creations but of virtuoso piano music in the Liszt mold as well. While there have been other excellent recordings of these works before, they have always been by Czech pianists who seemed to have instinctively grasped the specific rhythmic accent of Smetana's music, and this recording proves decisively that you don't have to be Czech to play Smetana. Stott clearly has the big technique to tackle the extreme difficulties of the Concert Étude in C major and the more extravagantly virtuosic movements of Dreams, but she also has the sensitivity to handle the sweetness of "On the Sea Shore -- a memory" and "Faded Happiness" (from Dreams) and the rhythmic verve to dance through the Fantasia on Czech Folksongs and the Czech Dances. Produced and edited by Rachel Smith and engineered by Jonathan Cooper and Paul Quilter, the sound of this Chandos disc is big, full and deep. While there are good reasons for trying Czech pianists' recordings of these works, anyone hearing upon Stott's recording will be well served. ~ James Leonard, All Music Guide
1. Faded Happiness
2. Consolation
3. In Bohemia - A Country Tale
4. In the Salon
5. By the Castle
6. Celebration Of Czech Country Folk
7. Transcription Of 'Der Neugierige' From Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin
8. Concert Etude In C Major
9. On the Sea Shore - A Memory
10. Fantasia On Czech Folksongs
11. Polka In F Sharp Minor
12. Polka In A Minor
13. Hulan
Kathryn Stott (piano)
The key work on this recording is the cycle of six Dreams. Composed after the on-set of deafness; Smetana had had to stop conducting and turn his attentions back to piano composition. ‘Extinguished Happiness’ has something of the Lisztian virtuosity of earlier works, but the brilliance is tinged with reflective melancholy. ‘Consolation’ which follows owes little to Liszt, rather its restless central section looks forward to the more agitated last symphonic poem of My Country. ‘In the salon’, seems to be looking back to youthful contentment while, ‘Before the Castle’ gazes back much further to an image of the nation’s heroic past. The concluding ‘Festivity of Czech country folk’ encompasses both an affectionate glimpse at rural goings on as well as a certain wry humour. The cycle is an excellent example of the extremes of Smetana’s composing style, and an excellent introduction to his piano music. The transcription of Schubert’s song ‘Der Neugierige’ is a brilliant and heartfelt transformation of Schubert’s work. In the same year, and again very much with Liszt’s example in mind, Smetana composed the Etude in C major; a big-boned work; its energy and the extreme demands of its virtuoso writing single it out as one of his most exciting works for piano. Completing the recording are the four Polkas composed in 1877 that comprise Smetana’s first set of Czech Dances and bring to a climax his lifelong association with this popular dance.

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