WORKS: Six Piano Pieces, Op. 7; About Mother; Moods, Op. 10
PERFORMER: Risto Lauriala (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553762
In a repertoire where the sonata is the exception rather than the rule, the piano miniature was the dominant form. Though certainly at home with large-scale composition, as such works as the Asrael Symphony and Ripening attest, Suk was also a consummate miniaturist. That said, the ‘Love Song’ from his Six Piano Pieces from the early 1890s addresses a big subject with both conviction and originality. Even this early in his career, Suk showed clear independence from his beloved teacher and later father-in-law, Dvorák (only ‘Idylls’ and the ‘Dumka’ bear the stamp of the great man), and a marked tendency to the reflective qualities which characterise his maturity.
While everything on this disc is attractive, the most captivating music resides in the five pieces from 1907, composed as pictures of his wife Otilie, who tragically had died two years before, as a memento for Suk’s young son. Their searching, often quite dissonant harmonies along with the occasional passionate outbursts suggest rage about the composer’s loss as well as sadness. Risto Lauriala is always responsive to Suk’s bitter-sweet muse, though at times the playing seems a little hard-edged. The sound, though dependable, could have had a little more bloom. Jan Smaczny