Lada Valešová: Dumka
A varied and sensitively planned programme, based on a genre that is in itself full of contrasts, slow against fast, melancholy warmed by occasional sunlight. Lada Vale≈ová commands a full, rounded tone but passes on facile virtuosity in favour of something mellower. In Tchaikovsky’s Dumka, for example, where the temptation to indulge temple-throbbing histrionics at around the midway point (something Horowitz did so magnificently) is avoided: a sense of elegy predominates more or less for the duration, which isn’t to say that the performance lacks brilliance. Of Dvo∑ák’s two Dumkas, the first opens with Bachian simplicity, whereas the Second, Op 12, is especially beautiful, the ensuing Furiant as pianistically interesting as any of Dvo∑ák’s solo keyboard works. Attractive pieces by Josef Suk, Mily Balakirev (in D minor and E minor respectively) and Liszt, his Glanes de Woronice No 3, ‘Complainte’, more thoughtful than virtuoso, are rather like sombre nocturnes. And there’s Dumka-Shumka, Op 18, by the Ukrainian ethnographer Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912), easily the most exotic- (ie ‘eastern’) sounding piece on the disc, a formal equivalent of the sort of music cooked up among the Romanian gypsies (the violinist Grigora∞ Dinicu made some wonderful records of similar repertoire).
Three ‘mini’ Dumkas by Martin≤ act as charming palate-cleansers but perhaps the loveliest moment is left until last, Lada Vale≈ová’s own Improvisation on Czech and Slovak Folk Songs. Do any readers recall a treasurable series of 78s of Czech folk songs that Jarmila Novotná made in collaboration with the Czech diplomat and politician Jan Masaryk? Similar effect here, with just a hint of Grainger added. The perfect ending to a delightful programme.