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CD Review

Marko Tajčević

Toccata 41

Complete Piano Music

  • Seven Balkan Dances (1926)
  • Five Preludes (1935)
  • Songs from Mur Island (1938)
  • Sonatina (1923)
  • Serbian Dances (1937)
  • Variations on a Theme in C minor (1948)
  • For Children (1938)
  • Sonatina (c. 1947)
  • Two Little Suites (1937)
  • For the Young (1935)
  • Six Miniatures (1920)
  • Tabatière à musique (1930)
Radmila Stojanović-Kiriluk, piano
Toccata Classics TOCC0041 79:13
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For a non-pianist, Tajčević wrote some very pianistic music, played splendidly here by Radmila Stojanović-Kiriluk. This composer lived from 1900 to 1984 and the works here, written mostly before the second world war, spanned a period of 28 years.

The booklet accompanying the disc contains excellent and detailed discussion of all the pieces in detail, by Radmila Stojanović-Kiriluk, the performer on this recording, who published a book on this composer's piano music, based on her doctoral work at Arizona State University. A native Serbian, she also provides biographical information about Tajčević. Born in a place that is now in Croatia, Tajčević studied in Prague and Vienna following early instruction in violin. He taught in Zagreb and was a choir director there before moving to Belgrade where he became a professor of theory and composition at the Belgrade Academy of music, in addition to continuing his conducting activity. He also published articles and reviews.

There are sixty movements in less than eighty minutes on this recording. Many of them have a duration of less than a minute. Clearly this composer's strength lay in producing miniatures, rather than works with extended development. The longest piano work he wrote, the Variations, has a duration of less than twelve minutes, but that of course breaks down into numerous parts. No matter. These are very engaging and varied pieces. The rhythms are fresh, often irregular; he changed meters frequently. The harmonies tend to be modal, coming from folk music. The sound is never abrasive, even though, as the commentator notes, his harmonic progressions are non-traditional. The melodies, often simple, are pleasurable. This is gentle music, for the most part, but not lacking in force at times. I was particularly struck by the lovely andante sostenuto in the Sonatatina. The Variations in C minor are quite nice, beginning with a solemn statement of the theme. The short children's pieces sound easy to play without being trivial.

The playing by Stojanović-Kiriluk is admirable: clear, well-phrased, never rushed, deliberate when called for. Her dynamics are subtle and well-controlled, from the very gentle to the forceful.

A very welcome release. Recommended.

Copyright © 2010, R. James Tobin

Trumpet