Vor’ek

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COMPOSERS: Vor’ek
LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Sonata quasi una fantasia in B flat minor, Op. 20,
PERFORMER: Olga Tverskaya (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: OP 30-241
Tomásek and Vorisek make a fascinating pair. Tomásek, a devoted Mozartian, dominated Prague’s musical life in the early 19th century and visiting artists, including Wagner, would regularly pay their respects. Over Vorisek hangs one of the great ‘what if’ questions of the early 19th century. Having studied with Tomásek, he went on to Vienna, where he became court organist and conductor of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Unfortunately, his early death put paid to a promising career and probably much fine music; on his death he left a considerable body of innovative piano music and one of the finest symphonic debuts of the era.

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Olga Tverskaya’s controlled, sensitive account of Vorisek’s Sonata, on a copy of a Brodman fortepiano, makes the most of the adventurous harmonies in the development of the first movement; equally successful is her way with the volatile, almost Mendelssohnian, C major Fantasy. Christopher Seed, on his revolutionary left-handed fortepiano, in which the notes go up in pitch toward the left rather than the right, provides more brittle accounts of Vorisek’s Impromptus than Tverskaya’s despite his slightly mellower sounding Graf copy; a more subtle reading of Tomásek’s Eclogues would have done much to externalise the charms of these delightful miniatures. Jan Smaczny