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There have been several recent recordings of the first book of On an Overgrown Path (c1900-11), Janácek’s gentle cycle of folksongs and tone pictures on the landscape and culture of his native Moravia. Stephen Hough and Marc-André Hamelin – both on Hyperion – are the pick of the competition. Zoltán Fejervári is not quite in their league but offers some sensitive and finely drawn interpretations.

The second book is rather problematic. Assembled after the composer’s death, some of its five pieces are arguably not complete. The real successor volume to On an Overgrown Path is In the Mists (1912), a set of four larger but still short tone pictures. Fejervári is impressive here too, as he is in the slightly bigger canvas of the so-called Sonata 1.X.1905. This powerful diptych remains an oddity, but a curiously satisfying one. (A third movement – allegedly a funeral march for the unfortunate František Pavlík, killed in the street demonstrations commemorated in the work – was destroyed by the composer just before the premiere.)

Piano Classics’ sound is beautifully natural. An important survey of Janácek’s essential piano music.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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