> Marij Kogoj - Piano Music [GR]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Marij KOGOJ (1892-1956)
Piano Music
Suite: ‘Piano’; Chopiniana; Bagatelles
Bojan Gorišek (piano)
Rec 1998?, DDD
SAZAS DD 0292 (54:00)


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The Trieste-born Slovenian Marij Kogoj was before now not even a name known to me. A pupil of Schreker and Schoenberg during the Great War, the bulk of his output is piano-based, although includes many songs and part-songs, as well as chamber and orchestral music and the opera Black Masks (1929). In 1932 his career was cut short by mental illness.

Kogoj’s idiom is a mix of folk-inspired late romanticism and a cautiously explored expressionism. The first three of the six movements of the suite titled simply Piano (published in 1921)—Andante cantabile, Allegretto and Andante poco più mosso—are quietly lyrical, pleasant if not overly remarkable. The fourth, Skica ("Sketch"), is altogether more impressive, its very concision hinting at a more mature creative figure forcefully confirmed by the succeeding Andantino sostenuto and Più mosso.

The little Chopiniana in G minor (different to the earlier B flat piece in the orchestral suite When dancing) is generally evocative of Chopin’s nocturnes, though the Slovenian’s brilliance as a miniaturist is endorsed rather by the 22 Bagatelles ("Malenkosti", in the local tongue). The product of a visit in 1929 to the rural Dolenjska district, here Kogoj comes closer in spirit to Szymanowski and is even suggestive of Bartók’s folk-inspired mode, if less percussive.

Bojan Gorišek’s strongly sympathetic, well-executed performances suffer from rather hard-edged and ungrateful piano tone. Still, this Sazas disc—produced by Slovenian Radio & TV in Ljubljana as part of a series devoted to Slovenian composers, available on import—is well worth investigating.

Guy Rickards

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