Schulhoff: Jazz Inspired Piano Works

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COMPOSERS: Schulhoff
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Jazz Inspired Piano Works
PERFORMER: Tomás Vísek (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 11 1870-2 DDD
Ervin Schulhoff was a fascinating figure by any standards. An outstanding example of what the cultural ferment of Prague in the inter-war years could produce, his interests ranged from Debussy (with whom he had lessons) to Dadaism. As a communist and a Jew, his fate was sealed when the Germans arrived in Prague – he died in a Nazi internment camp – but not before he had had an extensive career as a pianist and composer.

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The music on this enterprising CD dates, however, from a much happier time in his life. Schulhoff embraced jazz with even greater zest than his Czech contemporary Martinu. Fired by a passion for nightclub dancing and fuelled by his own remarkable piano technique, Schulhoff’s jazz-inspired keyboard works never flag, even if they are best listened to selectively rather than consecutively.

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Many of these short movements show a straightforward response to the jazz idiom, others go much further, notably the ‘In Futurum’ movement of Fünf Pittoresken – I won’t spoil the surprise. Tomás Vísek plays with infectious bounce, though he might have let some of the rhythms hang a little looser; the recording is credible if a touch lacking in depth. Jan Smaczny