Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4245-2

Supraphon has supplemented the internationally acclaimed discography of the legendary pianist Ivan Moravec with other gems from the Czech Radio archives. The album, scheduled to come out on 20 April 2018, contains previously unreleased recordings from the Czech Radio archives, made in 1967, 1974 and 1984. On the recording of Sergey Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major, Op. 10 , Moravec is accompanied by the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Karel Ančerl. The self-same orchestra, conducted by Yuri Simonov, is also a splendid partner to the soloist in Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. Ivan Moravec recorded Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Miklós Erdélyi.

The bulk of the highly praised recordings made by Ivan Moravec (1930–2015), a globally celebrated 20th-century pianist, were made in studios. Yet owing to radio microphones, we can also savour some of his extraordinary performances at Prague concert halls. From 1962, Moravec appeared on 20 occasions at the Prague Spring International Music Festival alone. The recording of Prokofiev’s Con­certo No. 1, made at the Prague Spring in May 1967, is one of the paramount, as well as last, recordings capturing the Czech Philharmonic under Karel Ančerl, before the conductor left for Toronto. The performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in May 1974 is yet another unforgettable experience, and undoubtedly one of Moravec’s most magnificent accounts of the piece. All the three recordings are now being released for the very first time, while as regards Grieg’s Piano Concerto, dating from December 1984, it is actually the one and only recording of a Moravec performance of the piece.

The renowned music critic Bernard Jacobson, until recently a contributing editor of Fanfare Magazine, who has spent periods as music critic of the Chicago Daily News and is now working for the MusicWeb International, said on the occasion of the album’s release: „I met Moravec first around 1969 in Minnesota, where I went to review a concert in which he was the soloist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Ivan’s immediate remark at that first meeting was, ‚I think Ashkenazy just played the Beethoven Third Concerto in Chicago. That must have been really wonderful!‘ This proved, over the near half-century of our friendship, to be only typical of his generosity to his fellow performers. In Paris once, he was playing lunch-time recitals for perhaps a hundred listeners in the lobby of one of the theaters on the Place du Châtelet, while the theater on the other side of the square was displaying huge posters about a Schubert series with the German pianist Christian Zacharias. I remarked on what, much as I admired Zacharias, I thought was an unjust disparity in the scale and publicity of the two projects, but Ivan immediately replied, ‚Oh, he deserves it – he’s a great artist.‘ And I enjoyed telling Leif Ove Andsnes how much admiration Ivan had expressed for the recording the Norwegian pianist had made of music by Janáček – music that Ivan had himself recorded, and on the subject of which the praise of this Czech master may be characterized as coming ‚from the horse’s mouth‘. What does all this, you may be wondering, have to do with a Moravec disc coupling recordings of concertos by Grieg, Prokofiev, and Ravel? Well, at least the last two of these three works tend to make their impact in performance more through a relatively impersonal brilliance than for any imposingly human qualities. Under Moravec’s hands, however, they evoke a distinctly more serious atmosphere and seem, without shortchanging the brilliance, to carry a heavier freight of expression.”

And it is indeed just as Bernard Jacobson indicates: the microphones captured Ivan Moravec in top form, possessing a romantic sweep, pregnancy of expression and ferocity, capable of rendering finely nuanced colours, yet always deeply immersed in the substance of the performed work.