Jan Vaclav VORISEK (1791-1825)
Sonata quasi una fantasia in B flat minor, Op 20
Six Variations in B flat major Op 19
Fantasia in C major, Op 12
Six Impromptus Op 7
Olga Tverskaya (piano)
OPUS 111 OPS 30241
Can I deal with my one reservation first?
I don't like the piano used here. It is a fortepiano by David Winston after
a 1823 Broadmann. I find its tone off-putting, particularly in the upper
register. To my taste, it lacks colour.
I have liked the music of Jan Vaclav Vorisek since the time I was asked to
conduct his Symphony in D. He was born in Bohemia in 1791 the year of Mozart's
death and died of consumption in 1825 at the age of 35, the same age
He was a very clever man having studied law, philosophy and mathematics and
was a civil servant.
The Piano Sonata is very important. Surprisingly for its time it is
in a remote key. Its other influence is the great Beethoven and one of the
many qualities is that Vorisek does not overblow his sonata as did Schubert
in his last sonatas. It is a serious work but not a crushing one. I would
have preferred the opening movement to be more con brio but the piano
tone may have a lot to do with this. The scherzo needed a little more fire.
The finale is another con brio but it more felicitous than brilliant.
Middle Beethoven is here the influence.
The Variations in B flat is a work of devotion and affection. They
were dedicated to Rosalie Haupt and you may read between the lines. The theme
is a minuet and conjures up the intimacy of that dance. It has a charm and
elegance. Does it represent Rosalie? The first variation could be coquettish.
And so I could continue but you be the musical detective! The finale is
especially good. But listen to the variations with the left hand trills and
then consider Chopin and his famous funeral march!
Vorisek's Fantasy in C dates from 1822, Schubert's from 1816. Is there
a connection? Schubert based his work on one of his songs. Vorisek's work
is more introspective and original.
Vorisek's Impromptus were written in 1822, Schubert's set, known as
D935, were written in 1827 to follow the set written earlier that year. Schubert
was probably copying Vorisek but extending the length of his own Impromptus
in line with his arrogant attitude that he could write bigger and better
pieces. Anything you can do, I can do better! Of course, that simply is not
true! Vorisek's work is more technically satisfying. Can one occasionally
Vorisek's Impromptus are arranged in the sequence of rising fifths. They
are akin to Schubert in that they are lightweight with the ländler and
the waltz prominent. The final Impromptu is in B major and wanders into G
An important disc and very welcome. The performances are generally very good.
I have doubts about the piano but that is a personal matter. Not all the
pieces are stunning. The Impromptus did nothing for me ... but the Sonata