Jan‡cek Debussy Ravel Martinu

COMPOSERS: Janácek Debussy Ravel Martinu
LABELS: Landor
ALBUM TITLE: Libor Novacek
WORKS: Preludes, Book 1 (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Libor Novacek
CATALOGUE NO: LAN 274
Bohuslav Martin? would certainly have seen the sense in Novacek’s pairing of some of his piano music from the 1920s, a high point in his enthusiasm for French culture, with that of Debussy and Ravel. And Janá?ek, although French Impressionism had an effect on his music rather later than the Piano Sonata, was certainly not averse to the influence of Debussy.

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Novacek’s approach to the Janá?ek Sonata, a passionate outpouring of feeling over the death of a protestor against Austrian dominance in Moravia, externalises the work’s emotional urgency. While not all of the dynamic contrasts are as carefully differentiated as they might be, the strong sense of linkage between expression and form makes this a performance of real power, if not quite up to the benchmark qualities of Firku?ný’s classic account. The juxtaposition with six of Debussy’s Preludes (Book 1) in spiky and insightful performances works well, particularly given the wealth of detail revealed by the clarity of the recording. His reading of the Ravel is infectious and often ear-catching; as in the Janá?ek, there is a persuasive sense of structure in each of the movements and especially in the exquisitely understated Fugue. Martin?’s Three Czech Dances receive a model performance – from nearly every point of view this is a CD to savour. Jan Smaczny