Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4234-2

One of the most distinguished young Czech pianists, Jan Bartoš has a doctorate from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music. He was the last pupil of the legendary pianist Ivan Moravec. “Jan Bartoš is one of my most impressive and most exciting young colleagues. In Jan Bartoš, virtuosity is coupled with deeply serious musicianship,” wrote the celebrated pianist Alfred Brendel. His performances have earned him great critical acclaim at home and abroad alike. Fanfare described his playing as “fascinating and absolutely riveting”, Critica Classica characterised Bartoš as “an emotional and sophisticated interpreter”, while Il Roma referred to him as “one of the best European pianists”.

Jan Bartoš has won numerous international competitions, including three in New York – the Mieczyslaw Munz and the Zaslavsky-Koch Competitions, and the Peter S. Reed Award – as well as the Rotary Musikförderpreis in Nuremberg and the Concertino Praga in the Czech Republic. Moreover, he has received prestigious accolades and scholarships from the Czech Ministry of Culture, the Rucorva Trust Award in the Netherlands and the Schimmel Prize in Germany. Jan Bartoš has given concerts at prominent venues throughout Europe (the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Mozarthaus in Vienna, the Cartoixa de Valldemossa in Mallorca, the Villa Pignatelli in Naples, the Teatro Metropol in Tarragona, the Chopin House in Duszniki Zdrój), in Asia and the USA (Carnegie Hall, Juilliard School, Merkin Concert Hall, Rockefeller University in New York, Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, the Rousell Hall in New Orleans, etc.).

Jan Bartoš’s Supraphon debut album (SU 4234–2) features Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K 466, and Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K 414 (“a quattro”), recorded with the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by the late Jiří Bělohlávek (K 466), and the Doležal Quartet (K 414). Jan Bartoš duly uncovers the deepest layers of the architecture of and the emotions encoded in the Mozart works. The pianist guides the listener through the ominous, demonic even, Concerto in D minor like through a mystery story. The more joyous nature of the Concerto in A major is further highlighted by the transparent texture of its chamber version for string quartet.

In connection with the album’s release, we asked Jan Bartoš a few questions.

How do you perceive Mozart’s music?
A lot of people seem to perceive just one aspect of Mozart’s music, considering it Apollonian, bright and merry. Yet it possesses all kinds of facets, including those of a dark nature. The psychology of his pieces is multi-layered and refined – Mozart’s music is concurrently simple and sophisticated, subjective and objective, ironic and compassionate. I myself regard it as a perpetual fusion of the comic and the tragic. This expressive amplitude also characterises the two concertos featured on my album. The Concerto in D minor possesses symphonic parameters and dark passages, it is compendious in form. The Concerto in A major, on the other hand, sparkles with joy and teems with musical ideas.

How do you recall working with Jiří Bělohlávek?
Jiří Bělohlávek conducted my debut performance with an orchestra– at the beginning of June 1996, the Prague Philharmonia and I played Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major. Subsequently, I had the honour to work with him on an annual basis, starting in 2013. Jiří Bělohlávek always approached music with great humility, without asserting his own personality. He was one of the precious few who revere the composer’s notation and fully serve the work. I also admired his artistic probity – when, he, the Czech Philharmonic and I were preparing a concert for the Smetana Litomyšl festival, in addition to three rehearsals, Bělohlávek and I had two several-hour sessions at the piano, discussing the details of the interpretation. Such an approach to music is quite unique in this day and age. In early June, he conducted a performance the Prague Philharmonia and I gave of Bohuslav Martinů’s Double Concerto at the festival in Polička. That was three weeks before Jiří Bělohlávek passed away, his very last concert. I will for ever be grateful to him, for his support and for that which he has taught me.

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