Jan Václav Voříšek (1791-1825, Czech)

Voříšek ( (I think it is pronounced Vodjitchek) shares a lot with his contemporary and friend Schubert, including the lamentably short life (he died of tuberculosis), but not only. He sounds like a kind of missing link between Beethoven and Shubert, with a romantic turbulence and agitation that evokes the former, or the more turbulent moments in Schubert’s Impromptus. His mammoth early cycle of Twelve Rhapsodies op. 1, composed when Voříšek was 21, is something like his Transcendental Studies (and Liszt was only two at the time!), falling stylistically somewhere Beethoven and Mendelssohn but without being in the least derivative, and at times offering even whiffs of Schumann and Liszt, and those similarities return in other works.

But it took a master pianist of the calibre of Artur Pizarro, on Collins Classics  14582 and 14772, to reveal the beauties of the music, which had been infuriatingly betrayed by the plodding and leaden fingers of Radoslav Kvapil, recorded in 1974 and ’75 by Supraphon. Olga Tverskaya playing on fortepiano in 2001 on Opus 111 wasn’t much more convincing, because of the limitations of both the instrument and her interpretation. I am rarely entirely negative about a CD, because I find that there is always something positive about an interpretation even when you have issues with it. But when a recording so betrays the beauties of the music as Kvapil’s and, to a lesser extent, Tverskaya’s, as to make it sound like inocuous and boring salon-music, and especially with a composer whose recognition depends on his interpreters, there can be no excuse and no compassion. This is tantamount to killing him a second tim.

If you want to hear the greatness in the music of Voříšek, go to Pizarro.

Comments are welcome