Aldo Ciccolini

The Janácek Album

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AllMusic Review by

These are lovely, even heartfelt performances of two little-known masterpieces by a master pianist that have only one serious flaw. It's not the playing. Aldo Ciccolini has more than enough technique to blaze through Janácek's tremendously difficult music, more than enough sensitivity to soar through his passionate lyricism, more than enough sense of tempo to drive his gnomic rhythms, and more than enough clarity of purpose to elucidate his gnarly textures. And it's certainly not the music. Although Janácek was widely considered an ethnic eccentric for a good part of his career, his music, especially his operas, long ago assumed its place in the standard repertoire, and in Ciccolini's hands even his sometimes enigmatic piano music is as compelling, even as compulsive, as Debussy's at its most obsessive. The flaw, however, is not with Ciccolini's hands but with his feet, specifically, with his pedaling. It's not his pedaling per se -- his subtle gradations of tone and nuanced blends of tone are wonderfully evocative -- it's the sound of his pedaling. Whenever the music is quieter than fortissimo, one can hear his pedals rising and falling -- and Janácek's piano music is quieter than fortissimo most of the time. The sound of the piano itself is more than adequate, if not quite exemplary -- a little too distant sometimes and a little too close other times -- but the nearly incessant sound of Ciccolini's pedaling could drive some listeners mad.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
In the mists (V Mlhách), pieces (4) for piano, JW 8/22
1 03:06 Amazon
2 03:58 Amazon
3 03:19 Amazon
4 04:44 Amazon
Piano Sonata ("Zulice, 1.X.05," "From the Street, 1 October, 1905"), JW 8/19 (final movement lost)
5 06:12 Amazon
6 07:47 Amazon
On the Overgrown Path (Po zarostlém chodnícku), for piano, JW 8/17
7 03:17 Amazon
8 03:00 Amazon
9 01:19 Amazon
10 02:27 Amazon
11 01:41 Amazon
12 01:52 Amazon
13 03:02 Amazon
14 03:11 Amazon
15 02:17 Amazon
16 03:06 Amazon
17 02:59 Amazon
18 03:06 Amazon
19 01:53 Amazon
20 05:03 Amazon
21 01:44 Amazon
22 01:08 Amazon
Theme and variations for piano in B flat major ("Zdenciny variace," "Zdenka Variations"), JW 8/6
23 00:48 Amazon
24 00:45 Amazon
25 00:32 Amazon
26 01:01 Amazon
27 01:03 Amazon
28 01:01 Amazon
29 01:43 Amazon
30 02:13 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick