Magazine article Czech Music

Slavic Soul: Antonin Dvorak & LeosJanacek Antonin Dvorak: Dumka and Furiant Op. 12, B 136,137 Poetic Tone Pictures Op. 85, Nos. 3, 7, 6, 9, 13, B 161 Humoresques Op. 101, Nos. 1, 8, B 187 Leos Janacek: On an Overgrown Path JW VIII/17, Sonata 1. X. 1905 JW VIII/19, in the Mists JW VIII/22

Magazine article Czech Music

Slavic Soul: Antonin Dvorak & LeosJanacek Antonin Dvorak: Dumka and Furiant Op. 12, B 136,137 Poetic Tone Pictures Op. 85, Nos. 3, 7, 6, 9, 13, B 161 Humoresques Op. 101, Nos. 1, 8, B 187 Leos Janacek: On an Overgrown Path JW VIII/17, Sonata 1. X. 1905 JW VIII/19, in the Mists JW VIII/22

Article excerpt

Jan Michiels--piano.

Text: English, German, Freeh, Dutch (by Jan Michiels). Recorded: Feb. 2016, Royal Conservatoire, Brussels, Belgium. Published: 2017.

TT: 77.57. I CD Outhere Music/Fuga Libera FUG 743

I waited for a recording like this for many years: one combining Dvorak's Poetic Tone Pictures and Janacek's On an Overgrown Path, the grandest piano works by these two composers, allied both spiritually and compositionally.

And here it is. Not thanks to the work of Czech pianists, who practically ignore Dvorak's two-hand piano work. Just like they were taught by generations of their Czech pedagogues, who shared an arrogantly disdainful view of Dvorak as a piano composer. Janacek's piano oeuvre is in a much better state, and not only thanks to the work of Firkusny, Palenickova, Moravcova, Klansky, Kahanek or Kasik, but also thanks to many pianists from abroad, of whom we might mention at least Andras Schiff and Leif Ove Andsnes. In the compositionally allied company of Dvorak's piano pieces, with which they share their roots in Schumann and a relation to Grieg's piano miniatures, Janacek's fragile compositions from On an Overgrown Path sound fresh, if not outright new. While we hear only a sophisticated selection from Dvorak's Humoresques and Poetic Tone Pictures (and the same with Janacek's Overgrown Path), Dvorak's forgotten jewel Dumka and Furiant op. 12 was recorded in its entirety, just like Janacek's two-movement piano sonata and the four-part cycle In the Mists, which concludes the disc, following Janacek's The Madonna of Frydek and Dvorak's Holy Mountain. The 51-year-old Belgian Jan Michiels is a gripping storyteller who stretches both the capacity of the CD medium (77:57) and the listener's attention, which gets no respite from the Janacek-Dvorak ping pong: At the Old Castle--Vivo, Furiat--The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away, Remembering--Sonata I. X. 1905, Dumka and Furiant--Allegro and Good Night!, Serenade, perhaps only with the first and seventh of Dvorak's Humoresques op. 101. However, Michiels is also a supremely enlightened narrator, as the current CD--a studio recording of his public concert at the Brussels Royal Conservatoire in February 2016--follows on from two older projects; one with Dvorak, one with Janacek. …

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