What a fantastic full moon! I stood at the back door leading to our garden and watched it in awe for many minutes. How big it seemed to be! That old dream from my childhood came back – me, flying to the moon. The dream is still very much alive, I feel it intensely when I watch the moon on days like that one, a month ago. And by chance that very same evening I discovered a composer whose piano music seemed to perfectly fit my mood. Or was it the music that discovered me at the right time?
In 1895 Josef Suk wrote a piano cycle in five parts he called “Nalady” (moods), his Op. 10. A rêverie, very appropriate to a full moon night. Very appropriate for a minute or two of Romantic dreaming. The Czech composer belongs to the late Romantic composers of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. He was the son-in-law of Antonin Dvorak and while his early music is largely inspired by Dvorak, he developed his own musical language from 1904/05 on when first his father-in-law and then his wife died.
Legend, Capriccio, Romance, Bagatelle, Spring Idyll – those are the names of the five parts. “Legend” is a lyrical, dreamy, rather melancholic piece, while “Capriccio” is a vivid, joyful gem that reminds me of Valerij Gavrilin “Piano Sketches”. The third section is soaked in Romanticism à la Schumann and Chopin, “Bagatelle” half-way between playful and meditative with a delicate tension between the two extremes and the final section reminds me os Schubert’s lighter piano pieces. Karl-Andreas Kolly has recorded “Moods” and other piano pieces written by Suk, all in all a record that I listen to with growing pleasure.
With all his heart Suk was a member of the famous Czech Quartet, that gave during its existence between 1892 and 1933 thousands of concerts at home and abroad. Composing was of secondary importance to him, nevertheless “Moods” is a wonderful example of the modern Czech school. It feels as if the piano was Suk’s intimate confessor, privy to his innermost feelings.
© Charles Thibo