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CD Review

Bedřich Smetana

Polkas for Piano

  • Salon Polka in F Sharp Major, Op. 7 #1
  • Salon Polka in F minor, Op. 7 #2
  • Salon Polka in E Major, Op. 7 #3
  • Poetic Polka in E Flat Major, Op. 8 #1
  • Poetic Polka in G minor, Op. 8 #2
  • Poetic Polka in A Flat Major, Op. 8 #3
  • Polka in F minor, B93
  • Polka in A Major, B94
  • Polka in E Major, B88
  • Polka in G minor, B89
  • Memories of Bohemia:
  • Polka in A minor, Op. 12 #1
  • Polka in E minor, Op. 12 #2
  • Polka in E minor, Op. 13 #1
  • Polka in E Flat Major, Op. 13 #2
András Schiff, piano
Warner Maestro 2564-69175-3 56m DDD
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The amazing thing about Smetana is that out of his 300 or so compositions, a good two third of these are for solo piano. He was a master of the keyboard and a great performer, and from his childhood years to the very end of his life he remained devoted to his favourite instrument. Sadly this huge output has remained neglected, and while his outstanding orchestral works are performed regularly, his piano pieces are as rare as snow in the summer.

The works on this disc date from the 1850's when the composer was striving to put this Bohemian dance form on the European musical map. Now thanks to the courage and prowess of András Schiff we can enjoy and admire these small gems which have languished in limbo for far too long. As expected all the pieces are brimming with a poetic freshness that is engaging throughout, and the inventive precocity of the composer never wanders or wanes.

Schiff's blazing technical ability serves the music admirably, and the dynamic energy and bouncy rhythms are captured with astonishing bravura. This is a truly invaluable addition to the Smetana discography.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech