I have come very late to appreciate Janáček’s piano music — something I largely owe to two discs by Ivana Gavrić. Her fine first CD, titled after that composer’s In the Mists, was a serendipitous find in an Oxfam shop (it also includes, among other things, an excellent performance of Schubert’s A minor Sonata, D. 784). But her second recording from 2011, From the Street, is even better. If you don’t know Janacek’s sequence of ten pieces On an Overgrown Path, then you have a delight awaiting you. Gavrić’s playing seems exceptional here: the Gramophone reviewer rightly wrote of “the intimacy, finely honed nuance, conversational flow and subtle underlining of the composer’s harmonic surprises that Gavrić brings to each of the short pieces”, and other reviewers were equally enthusiastic. There are, I have since discovered, some other terrific recordings available, including one by Marc-André Hamelin. But this still strikes me as outstanding.
Also on the CD are Janáček’s Sonata 1.X.1905 From the Street, Ravel’s Valses Nobles Et Sentimentalise, and not least a wonderful performance of Prokofiev’s Sonata no. 2. (I’m not usually a great one for mixed recital discs, and I usually listen to these performances separately; but actually the programming works very well). So indeed, all very warmly recommended, especially if the Janáček or Prokofiev isn’t familiar.
Footnote Ivana Gavrić won a BBC Music Magazine Award in 2011 for her first CD. It is now time to vote for this year’s Awards. The Pavel Haas Quartet are shortlisted in the Chamber Music section. So you know what you have to do …
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