Franz Liszt - Transcendental Étude, Chasse-neige, No. 12. F. Liszt / R. Wagner - Liebestod from the opera Tristan und Isolde. F. Liszt / G. Verdi - Concert Paraphrase on the quartet from the opera Rigoletto. F. Liszt / W. A. Mozart - Lacrimosa from Requiem in D minor. Bedřich Smetana - Pleasant Landscape (Sketches. Op. 5), On the Seashore - Concerts Etude in G sharp minor, Op. 17, Bagatelles et Impromptus, Macbeth and the Witches
Miroslav Sekera - piano
"I would like to prove that Bedřich Smetana was a composer comparable with Franz Liszt and that his music deserves to be performed at major concert venues worldwide." Armed with this belief, the pianist Miroslav Sekera plunged into making the present album. He is an extraordinary soloist, as well as an experienced and sought-after chamber musician (regularly performing with the violinist Josef Špaček, the hornist Radek Baborák, and others). Putting together Smetana and Liszt is in a sense logical - both of them were superb pianists, with the piano having played a significant role in their lives and artistic developments, particularly in the first decades of their careers. Liszt was a great model for Smetana, as documented by a note in the Czech composer's diary: "With God's grace and help, one day I will be like Liszt in technique and like Mozart in composition." The correspondence and several personal encounters between Liszt and Smetana ultimately led to a friendship. Yet whereas Liszt's piano works have enjoyed great attention, Smetana's piano music is yet to become widely known and acknowledged. The very first cycle of characteristic pieces, Bagatelles et Impromptus (1844), written by Smetana at the age of 20, featured traits that would be palpable throughout his piano oeuvre. His five-year stay in Gothenburg and conversations with Liszt enhanced Smetana's penchant for programme music. This inclination of his reflected in several virtuoso piano works dating from that time, including the piano poem Macbeth and the etude On the Seashore. Sekera's performance reveals to the full Smetana's genius and singularity, which we know from his symphonic poems, but are only now discovering in his piano music.
Discovering Smetana's piano music through Liszt...
“It is above all the intimate sounds, the narrative playing and the constant reflection on what is played that make this pianist so extraordinary. In addition, nothing is artificial, the music develops almost by itself and seeks its own path. Miroslav Sekera always finds in each piece an individual approach and a very personal scale of colours. Above all, the music seems to flow out of him. That is great art.” Pizzicato, August 2020
“Eine echte Entdeckung ist die zu Smetanas Lebzeiten nie veröffentIichte,,Macbeth"-Fantasie mit extrem weitöumig und orchestral gedachter Dramatik, mit der Sekera mit seiner Smetana-Ehrung eine Lücke füllt.” Piano News, November 2020
“Sekera traduit bien le charme, la virtuosité et la chaleur des pages. Il souligne aussi ce que le Tchèque doit à Liszt en termes de psychologie, de passion ou de lyrisme. Ce CD est un témoignage convaincant des liens de longue durée entre les deux musiciens.” Crescendo, December 2020