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Rozezni mne láskou…
Josef SUK (1874-1935)

Píseň lásky Op.7/1 [6.30]

Idylky 1 Op.7/4 [1.57]
Capriccietto Op.7/6 [1.45]
Karel BENDL (1838-1897)

Ukolébavka [3.26]
Máj [2.21]
Intermezzo Op.109b [4.10]
Serenáda Op.109c [5.56]
Milostná scena Op.109a [5.19]
Zdeněk FIBICH (1850-1900)

Poème Op.41 IV/14 [1.16]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Na starém hradě [from Poetic Tone Pictures] Op.85/3 [4.54]

Vitěslav NOVÁK (1870-1949)

Písně zimních nocí [Songs of Winter Nights] Op.30 [18.03]

Tomáš Víšek (piano)
Recorded at the Music School in Brandys nad Labem, Czech Republic, July 1999
TOMÁS VÍŠEK TV 0001-1154 [55.44]

Tomáš Víšek is the eloquent Czech pianist whose Suk album for Arco Diva, played on the composer’s own Bösendorfer, I admired so much - review. As well as a number of discs for Supraphon he has self-produced some of his own. This one takes as its theme: lyricism – the title’s translation is actually Touch my heart strings. As before he proves a notably acute and sympathetic guide to his native repertoire and an artist worth hearing.

Naturally there is Suk. Píseň lásky must have been played by every aspiring Czech and Slovak conservatoire student but few will ever have approached the romantic warmth of this performance –most impressive, with no straining for effect, and a performance I admit to preferring over that of Moravec. The Idylky is written in a very approachable morceaux style and Víšek makes no attempt to inflate it beyond natural bounds.

There’s a lack of Bendl on disc at the moment and these five pieces are all apparently world premiere recordings. He mines musical box delicacy, very much of its time of course, but despite the generic late nineteenth century writing there’s real charm here, not least in the pianist’s nuanced rolled chords. Clearly Bendl’s aspirations stretched beyond the borders of the Twin Monarchies: Máy is very French – Fauré specifically – and the Serenade is strongly influenced by Chopin. Might this lead to a mini Bendl revival? Maybe not but these are pieces, whilst perhaps rather derivative and slight, well worth reviving.

There are some telling rubati in the Fibich evergreen – now much more often heard in its violin arrangement - and we also hear some of the eerie character depiction of the Dvořák Old Castle from the Poetic Tone Pictures. The longest and most powerful music here is reserved for last – Novák’s Písně zimních nocí or ‘Songs of Winter Nights’. If you know the classic Rauch recording from 1957, in a Supraphon box of Novák piano music, you will be aware that Víšek takes a slightly more expansive view of these four pieces. This is most evident in the daringly elastic tempo taken in the third, Song of a Christmas Night, where the newcomer brings a commensurate warmth and tristesse to bear on the music. Elsewhere Rauch really whips up the left hand gusts in the Stormy Night - Víšek’s is by comparison rather less gusty - and Víšek’s Carnival Night is not as explosive as Rauch’s. It’s more held in check, the high spirits slightly more muted.

On the debit side the recording is just a shade too cavernous and the piano’s action is a touch noisy. The notes consist of poetically inflected lines about the pieces played but nothing about the music as such – a pity, especially with regard to Bendl. Never mind, here is a Czech pianist really inside his repertoire and one who promotes it with warmth and imagination.

Jonathan Woolf



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