Ján Cikker: Piano Music

Catalogue No: TOCC0270
EAN/UPC: 5060113442703
Release Date: 2014-08-04
Composer: Ján Cikker
Artists: Jordana Palovičová

Ján Cikker (1911-89) was one of the leading Slovak composers of the twentieth century, with no fewer than nine operas to his credit. Cikker was also a fluent pianist and his piano music — little known even in his native Slovakia (this disc features several first recordings) — sits downstream from Szymanowski and Janáček, similarly blending folk influences with an echo of French impressionism.

Jordana Palovičová, piano

Listen To This Recording:

  1. Lullaby (1942)
  2. Sonatina, Op. 12, No. 1 (1933)

  3. I Allegro fresco
  4. II Andante sostenuto
  5. III Vivo
  6. Two Compositions for Youth, Op. 27 (1948)

  7. I Mama’s Singing
  8. II The Little Virtuoso
  9. Piano Variations on a Slovak Folksong (1973)

  10. Molto moderato, improvvisando
  11. Un poco più mosso, ma sempre moderato
  12. Con moto, corrente
  13. Moderato
  14. Animando. Un poco con moto
  15. Con moto moderato
  16. Con moto moderato
  17. Con moto. Moderato
  18. Seven Fugues: Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 6 (1932–34)

  19. I Fuga 1, a 2 voci. Allegro vivo
  20. III Fuga III, a 3 voci. Largo sostenuto
  21. IV Fuga IV, a 3 voci. Andante sostenuto
  22. VI Fuga VI, a 2 voci. Andante
  23. Theme with Variations, Op. 14, No. 1 (1935)

  24. Thema. Rubato quasi parlando
  25. Var. 1: Più mossoo
  26. Var. 2 –
  27. Var. 3: Allegretto grazioso
  28. Var. 4: Poco allegro
  29. Var. 5: Allegro strepitoso
  30. Var. 6: Largo sostenuto
  31. Var 7: Allegro gaio
  32. Var. 8: Vivo
  33. Var. 9: Vivo
  34. Var. 10: Molto moderato
  35. Var. 11: Presto
  36. Var. 12: Rubato quasi parlando
  37. What the Children Told Me: Piano Aquarelles (1962)

  38. I A fairy tale, please
  39. II Catch me!
  40. III Why is the snow falling?
  41. IV What is a forest?
  42. V Dance with me
  43. VI Why are you crying?
  44. VII Where is the brook flowing?
  45. VIII What’s in the lonely castle?
  46. IX A bogeyman’s there
  47. X We saw a roe deer
  48. XI The train is moving!
  49. XII Why is the sky blue?
  50. XIII I let a butterfly go
  51. XIV Must everybody die?
  52. XV We’ve been to the circus
  53. Tatra Brooks: Three Studies for Piano (1954)

  54. I The Brook and the Breeze
  55. II What the Brook Told Me
  56. III The Brook and the Storm

3 reviews for Ján Cikker: Piano Music

  1. :

    ‘…There are impressionist/post-impressionist elements at play on these works and you can (as the liners again note) discern the influence of Szymanowski and Janacek in the acid-etched dynamism and expressionism to be heard here. There are neo-classical elements here and there as well. …Many of the pieces call for a sensory-motor virtuosity, a scherzo-like playfulness and drive that Jordana Palovičová handles with surety. There is pulsating excitement alternating with a brittle lyricism that perhaps makes him recognizably specific to the modern realms current in his region. But he goes his own way nonetheless. There is much to appreciate here, from his take on modern neo-classicism in four of the ‘Seven Fugues’ of 1932-4 to the 1962 ‘What the Children Told Me’ and its highly dynamic, highly varied episodes. This is the sure touch of a composer of high merit.’

    —Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review

  2. :

    ‘…The earliest works are the ‘prentice Fugues he wrote for Křička in Prague of which four of the surviving seven are presented. Appropriately we have a representative sample of two-part, three-part and one four-part fugue attesting to his Hindemith-like application. Around the same time he completed his Sonatina, Op.12 No.1, a fluent, clear, fresh example of his youthful ‘al fresco’ style. The Theme with Variations of 1935 is making its first appearance on disc and is a more complex piece, written just before he entered Novák’s advanced class in Prague It has a quasi-improvisatory theme and a series of brief but contrasting variations, variously pawky, brash and slightly obsessive before the music returns to the opening improvised aura. The wartime Lullaby, also a premiere recording, is a post-Chopin piece and very brief and the post-war Two Compositions for Youth are taut character studies of which the rippling second is the more engaging. Tatra Brooks may remind one, in name perhaps only, of Moyzes’ orchestral study of the River Vah, as it too delves into the rich topography of Slovakia. In Cikker’s case he looks further east, to the Tatra Mountains – he was a keen mountaineer. This is by some way the most enjoyable and invigorating music here, vivacious, post-impressionist, stormy and even turbulent. Cikker invokes colour and rhythm nicely throughout. The Aquarelles, What the Children Told Me (1962) are fifteen simple character pieces, a minute so in length, and pleasingly suggestive of forest, brook, and bogeyman. Finally there is the Piano Variations on a Slovak Folksong (1973) composed when he was a leading operatic composer. The theme and seven variations hearken back to the 1935 variations in form but the results are much livelier and more characterful. …Jordana Palovičová plays Cikker with style and sensitivity and it’s good that she has widened his piano representation on disc.’

    —Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International

  3. :

    ‘It’s a rare treat these days to come across any music by the Slovak composer Ján Cikker (1911–1989). … Not the first time, a compositional voice well worth hearing has been lost to us due to a shifting political and economic climate. … The piano sonatina is a charming, deceptively light, thoroughly professional work from 1933, whose folk materials are thoroughly worked out in a manner that recalls Debussy to good effect. From 1935, the Theme with Variations was composed a year before Cikker began master classes in Prague with Vitězslav Novák. It was to become a favorite form of the composer, and not surprisingly, as his study of old forms left him with an ability to spin cogent variations out of small musical cells that an organist might admire. Of especial note are two: the wispy, chromatic Eighth, non-tonal but consonant, and the mysterious 10th, which could be considered a study in two-part chordal inversions in separate keys. From 1942 comes a simple Lullaby, a gift to a friend on the birth of his daughter, and from 1948, Two Compositions for Youth. The former is redolent of Chopin, while the latter (“Mama’s Singing,” and “The Little Virtuoso”) suggests some of the simpler, child-inspired compositions of Debussy and Fauré. … Inevitably, no single disc can do justice to Cikker’s tonal and expressive range, which in his operas could become harshly dissonant indeed. But the piano music on this album more than hints at his skill, and imaginative exploration of harmonic territory that lay outside the classical mainstream. It helps that in Jordana Palovičová, Cikker has a persuasive advocate. … Cikker’s music overall is richly rewarding, and I can only hope more of it eventually shows up. In the meantime, Toccata Classics and Jordana Palovičová should be thanked for providing a sampling of his music whose release was long overdue.’

    —Barry Brenesal, Fanfare Magazine

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