Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4324-2

The renowned Czech pianist Jan Bartoš’s new album contains Miloslav Kabeláč’s Eight Preludes for Piano and Motifs from Exotic Lands, and Bedřich Smetana’s Rêves. It was recorded live at a concert at the acoustically splendid Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague. We could easily claim that the featured pieces are little-known Czech piano gems, which owing to the album listeners worldwide can now discover and savour. Prior to the release, we asked Jan Bartoš a few questions.

What do Smetana and Kabeláč have in common that they feature together on your new album?

I have always perceived the two artists as having a great inner kinship. Kabeláč’s markedly humanistically oriented oeuvre in many a respect links up to Bedřich Smetana’s legacy, both musically and intellectually. Both of them composed their most significant piano cycles at the time when they were working on their major orchestral pieces – Smetana on My Country and Kabeláč on The Mystery of Time. Parallels can be seen in their artistic careers too. Both of them were distinguished composers, as well as reputed conductors and pianists, who considerably influenced Prague’s musical life. Both of them created superb music for piano, which, however, remains overshadowed by their orchestral works – and my album aims to set this right, at least a little bit. 


What was the most difficult aspect of preparing the concert and recording?

Recording a live concert is always tricky, because you never know whether you will be satisfied with the result. Accordingly, the task is difficult and gratifying alike. When you feel great during the concert, the recording can radiate vigour, an outcome that cannot be attained in the studio. I think that a great example in this respect is Smetana’s Rêves – such a recording cannot be made anywhere but live at a concert.

The recording of Kabeláč’s Preludes came into being within the Rudolf Firkušný Piano Festival in Prague – how do you perceive the event paying tribute to the legendary Czech-American musician?

The Firkušný festival is a true feast for all music lovers, particularly piano enthusiasts. I feel greatly honoured to have had the opportunity to perform there among such celebrated pianists as Evgeny Kissin, Marc-André Hamelin and Beatrice Hana. When I studied in New York, I was proud to witness the esteem in which Firkušný is still held in the USA. A teacher at the Juilliard School, he nurtured several generations of pianists. It’s a great pity that Czechs audiences did not get to experience his mastery live for decades. Fortunately, he made recordings that attest to his noble style of playing.

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