Janacek: Piano Music, Vol. 1: On an Overgrown Path; Sonata 1.x.1905 (From the Street)

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COMPOSERS: Janacek
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Music, Vol. 1: On an Overgrown Path; Sonata 1.x.1905 (From the Street)
PERFORMER: Thomas Hlawatsch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553586
For a bargain-price label like Naxos, it is the music, not starry performers, that is the priority, and many of its performers are relatively little known. Sometimes they hit the target, but not quite here. The Austrian pianist Thomas Hlawatsch hasn’t the measure of the two surviving movements of Janácek’s Piano Sonata. Its title, 1.x.1905, commemorates a political incident in which a young Czech nationalist was killed, and the music should have a passionate, impulsive urgency. Hlawatsch clings to the notes in a slightly dreamy way and doesn’t generate the necessary heat for the final, outraged climax. He also tends to be conventionally, and not specifically, sensitive in the two cycles of short autobiographical pieces, though two of the most evocative in the first set, ‘They chattered like swallows’ and ‘The barn owl has not flown away’, make their effect quite strongly. The recording is a bit too distant. Adrian Jack

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