Håkon Austbø

Janácek: Piano Works (Complete)

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AllMusic Review by

Approached with scholarly care and played with consummate skill and genuine feeling, Leos Janácek's complete works for piano are rendered with clarity and sympathy by Norwegian pianist Håkon Austbø on this magnificent double-disc set from Brilliant Classics. In as thorough a manner as possible, Austbø presents the major works -- the truncated Sonata I.X. 1905, the two series of On an Overgrown Path (1901-1908; and 1911, with Austbø's completion of the Vivo), and In the mists (1912) -- along with an assortment of early efforts, such as the Tema con variazioni (1880) and the Moravian Dances (1888-1904), as well as less significant miniatures, folk song adaptations, and miscellaneous fragments. The first disc contains the essential keyboard pieces, replete with all of Janácek's inspired idiosyncrasies and passionate outpourings, and is perhaps sufficient for most listeners' needs; but the second disc is definitely worth perusing, if not necessarily for the finest music, then for some deeper insights into the composer's use of Czech folk materials and for a broader appreciation of his stylistic changes over five decades. Austbø cannot be praised too highly for his exquisite readings, excellent research, and cautious editing, and Brilliant deserves high marks for delivering the performances in stunning sound that feels naturally resonant and palpably real.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Piano Sonata ("Zulice, 1.X.05," "From the Street, 1 October, 1905"), JW 8/19 (final movement lost)
1
5:59
2
6:15
On the Overgrown Path (Po zarostlém chodnícku), for piano, JW 8/17
3
3:53
4
3:27
5
1:15
6
3:25
7
2:10
8
2:04
9
2:28
10
3:09
11
2:57
12
3:55
13
3:18
14
2:58
15
1:46
In the mists (V Mlhách), pieces (4) for piano, JW 8/22
16
3:23
17
4:26
18
3:14
19
4:21

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
10:15
2
1:38
3
1:55
4
4:59
5
0:35
On the Overgrown Path (Po zarostlém chodnícku), for piano, JW 8/17
6
2:31
7
4:57
Work(s)
8
8:14
Intimate Sketches (Intimní Skici) (13), for piano
9
0:40
10
1:08
11
0:34
12
0:53
13
0:29
14
1:05
Moravian Folk Poetry in Songs (Moravská lidová poezie v písních), folk songs (53) for voice & piano, JW 5/2
15
8:57
16
0:57
Intimate Sketches (Intimní Skici) (13), for piano
17
1:00
18
1:10
19
0:13
20
0:31
blue highlight denotes track pick