LUBOŠ FIŠER (1931-1999): Complete Piano Sonatas - Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 “Fras”, 7 & 8.
Catalogue Number: 12T047
Label: Grand Piano
Description: Fišer's piano sonatas, a genre to which he returned repeatedly over four decades, fascinatingly chart the evolution of his compositional style throughout his career. The outlier is the 1955 1st, a three-movement structure, neoclassical in form and neo-romantic in content, written during his studies at the Prague Conservatory. Although by no means juvenilia - a number of substantial works preceded it, and it is a thoroughly accomplished work with echoes of Janáček and Czech folk music - it barely hints at the composer's mature style. Fišer discarded his 2nd Sonata, but the transitional 3rd is a far more individual, interesting and emotionally powerful work than the 1st. In two movements subdivided into sections, it anticipates the later works by juxtaposing episodes of opposing character, which undergo metamorphosis as they recur. In this work, the material of these sections still resemble Romantic themes and melodies of some duration. The following sonatas are all in a single movement, built of 'blocks' - always basically tonal - within which ostinato-like figures repeat, with evolution and transformation. This could be a formula for repetitiveness, but the quality of the composer's invention and the sheer variety of brief motifs that he finds from which to assemble his taut, highly compressed structures prevent this ever being the case. The pealing of bells, a frantic perpetuum mobile, a chorale, a brisque march, a fragment of folk melody, violent percussive hammering - any of these may follow any other, taking on one another's character or stubbornly sticking to their own. The 4th uses the opening phrase of Scriabin's 10th sonata as one of its motifs, in sorrowing memory of the composer-pianist Antonín Jemelík, who died 'under unexplained circumstances' in 1962 and whose legacy was largely erased, the implication being that he fell afoul of the regime. The 8th, written three yeaes before Fišer's death, breaks the pattern somewhat, maintaining a melancholy, uneasy mood throughout, with apparent allusions to earlier works of the Romantic era with a preoccupation with tragic themes. Zuzana Šimurdová (piano).