Jitka Cechová: Live at the Rudolfinum

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Liszt
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5; Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor; Mephisto Waltz No. 1
PERFORMER: Jitka Cechová (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SU 4021-2

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Recorded live at Prague’s Rudolfinum, this disc pits Czech pianist Jitka Cechová against two of the most monumental works of Romantic piano music, with mixed results. She plays Liszt’s B minor Sonata with all the requisite technical command, but this is not an interpretation to dumbfound like those of Curzon, Pletnev or Demidenko – or, more recently, Yuja Wang’s dazzling pyrotechnics on DG.

Cechová’s interpretation comes over as rather lyrical and thoughtful, not seeking to overawe but to identify the emotional bedrock from which the massive superstructure arises. The danger is that the result can sound a little small-scale. As far as wild bravura goes, she shows herself able to give her all with a barnstorming but rather choppy account of Mephisto Waltz No. 1.

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The Brahms F minor, recorded at the same venue a full seven years earlier (2001), is patchy: tremendous authority and sense of scale in the first movement (taken rather slowly), but the hesitations and slowings-down in the Andante sound less a matter of interpretation than a sudden need to give the fingers time to get round the notes. The last three movements fare better. There’s plenty of promise here. Calum MacDonald