Kodaly: Children’s Dances; Neun Klavierstücke, Op. 3; Marosszéker Tänze; Tänze aus Galánta; Méditation sur un motif de Claude Debussy; Valsette

COMPOSERS: Kodaly
LABELS: Profil
ALBUM TITLE: Kodály
WORKS: Children’s Dances; Neun Klavierstücke, Op. 3; Marosszéker Tänze; Tänze aus Galánta; Méditation sur un motif de Claude Debussy; Valsette
PERFORMER: Miki Aoki (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: PH 11040

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Kodály’s achievement as a musician was truly extraordinary, ranging from groundbreaking work in ethnomusicology, through music education to composition. Unsurprisingly, his piano music is greatly influenced by his activities as a folk-song collector. The Marosszek dances evoke the music of a remote Transylvanian past: demandingly virtuosic, the colouring is often modal and much is made of characteristically ‘snapped’ Hungarian rhythms. The Children’s Dances, based on the black keys of the piano, are much more simply conceived, but occasionally reveal unexpected depths.

The Op. 3 Piano Pieces have a more abstract quality, while still perceptibly folk-inflected. As elsewhere, Debussy is clearly an influence in these works, but they also show Kodály’s remarkably adventurous use of piano sonority.

Miki Aoki responds well to the music’s virtuoso demands, particularly in the Marosszék and Galanta Dances, but she is also alive to the elusive subtleties of the simpler pieces, including the delightful Valsette which concludes the offerings on this CD. Particularly impressive is the way in which she ‘gets inside’ the Op. 3 Piano Pieces, revealing a remarkable expressive range in a genuinely memorable performance. It is only a pity that the recorded sound lacks resonance.

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Jan Smaczny