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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Carnaval op.9 (1834/35)

1. Preambule [2:15]
2. Pierrot [2:16]
3. Arlequin [1:19]
4. Valse noble [2:03]
5. Eusebius [2:07]
6. Florestan [0:56]
7. Coquette [1:51]
8. Replique (sphinxes) [0:55]
9. Papillons [0:44]
10. A.S.C.H.-S.C.H.A.(Lettres dansantes) [0:44]
11. Chiarina [1:31]
12. Copin [1:22]
13. Estrella [0:31]
14. Reconnaissance [1:55]
15. Patalon et Colombine [1:01]
16. Valse allemande [1:08]
17. Paganini (Intermezzo) [1:31]
18. Aveu [1:21]
19. Promenade [2:47]
20. Pause [0:19]
21. Marche des "Davidsbundler" contre les Philistins [3:42]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Venezia e Napoli (supplement to "Les Annees de Pelerinage"; 1858)

22. Gondoliera [6:04]
23. Canzone [3:47]
24. Tarantella [9:39]
25. Mephisto Waltz No.1 in A major [11:41]
26. Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 in C sharp minor [10:03]
Jakub Cizmarovic (piano)
Recorded July 2003 at the Telos Music Studios, Mechernich
ARTE NOVA CLASSICS 82876 64002 2 [73:47]
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I can hardly believe that this young pianist was born in Bratislava after my first visit there which only seems like yesterday – well alright, the day before yesterday! I feel very humble when I examine what he has achieved in under twenty years against what I have in the same period. He is a remarkable and extremely talented young man and brave to take on, for what I assume is his debut album (?), Carnaval, a work that demands such a great deal of the pianist to bring it off successfully. I remember one of those excellent BBC Radio 3 Saturday morning programmes several years ago that compared the then available versions and found various critical things to say about one by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli no less. However, he was often criticised for playing that was described as cold and aloof, leading one critic to call him "the great mortician". Carnaval is a whimsical piece and needs careful handling to ensure there is just the right balance between whimsy and control. This is necessary to capture the magical nature of the pieces. Perhaps for someone with Michelangeli’s reputation for a cold approach Carnaval was not a good choice. Here I must apologise for I have only one other version of Carnaval on disc – that of Rachmaninov on a recording made in 1929 so I have to say it’s not a very fair comparison, but it is telling nevertheless. For someone once described as "a six foot long scowl" he treats this work with supreme gentleness and masterful control with the result that it is an almost flawless performance. He caresses the keys when it’s called for and hits them with a fiery intensity at moments that demand it and a memorable experience it certainly is. However, the young Cizmarovic makes a good fist of this work and he has also learned when to unleash his passion and when to keep it tamed though sometimes he loses out to quietness when a dainty fairylike approach would have been more suitable. It must be difficult to show the difference between the two.

His approach to Liszt though finds him on a surer footing with passion unbridled and showing his power to do the necessary when called for by this composer’s music. When I listened to his performance of Tarantella from "Les années de pelerinage" I was very taken by some really fine playing. His performance of the "Mephisto Waltz No.1" and the "Hungarian Rhapsody No.2" are similarly impressive. He can play fast and furious and it makes for exhilarating listening. At only twenty he certainly has a tremendous future ahead of him – I wonder if we’ll see him at the Leeds Piano Competition?

Steve Arloff

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