Gerlint Böttcher

Vorísek: Rhapsodies; Schubert: Impromptus

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The combination of the music of Jan Václav Vorísek and Franz Schubert is a natural one to make, although for whatever reason, it isn't done often. The two were contemporaries (Vorísek was only a few years older and both men died young) and after Vorísek moved to Vienna, they became friends. Vorísek's impromptus -- or at least his use of the term -- are thought to have inspired Schubert's impromptus. That's why when you do find Vorísek and Schubert on the same program, it's usually the impromptus of both composers. On this recording, instead of the usual, Gerlint Böttcher has combined some of Vorísek's Op. 1 rhapsodies with the first set of Schubert's impromptus. It's not a bad pairing; the rhapsodies have the same ABA structure as the impromptus and a similar way of contrasting material. Vorísek's melodies may not be quite as memorable as Schubert's, but there is a great deal of charm and appeal in these rhapsodies. Nos. 7 and 8 have a similar agitated feel in their outer sections, with a little quirkiness in their rhythms. No. 9 has a delightful dance in the middle, played in the upper part of the keyboard. All of the rhapsodies are marked Allegro or faster, and the central sections are not often much slower. It is perhaps indicative of Vorísek's youthfulness, but it can make for tiring listening, even without all 12 of the set being performed. Böttcher matches that sense of indefatigability, and as she forges ahead with the music, the opportunity for more subtlety in touch and expression, a little more musical maturity, is missed. In the Schubert, she is more careful with her expression, maybe because the music is so well-known and frequently performed that it's easier to see where and what kinds of choices can be made. The pacing of No. 1 is calmer than most performances; No. 2 has nicely detached and clear notes; and in general she brings out some of the song-like qualities in all the Impromptus. It would be interesting to hear if Böttcher can bring some more of that kind of attention to the Vorísek if she continues to program it over her career, because the music deserves to be better known and heard at its full potential. For now, this performance serves simply as an introduction to it.

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