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Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, October 2011

This disc is the sixth in the cycle of Bartók’s complete piano music played by Jenő Jandó. I love these works and never tire of hearing them, even those some might categorise as banal like tracks 10-27 which really are simple children’s pieces. He wrote a lot of such little miniatures, but it is the very simplicity that is so appealing to me; small can be beautiful in music as well as in anything else and complexity doesn’t necessarily imply that something is good either. The first work on the disc, whilst also being very lyrical and approachable, is an extremely tough challenge for pianists. I was surprised to learn from the liner-notes that the work has never found much acceptance—I can’t understand why as it’s a lovely sounding work that was dedicated by Bartók to his teacher at the Academy in Budapest, Professor Thomán, who also taught Dohnányi. It is uncharacteristic of Bartók, sounding much more like Rachmaninov or Scriabin to me, but it was an early work, written in 1903 when the composer was only 22…

This disc is another welcome addition to the complete piano series and Jandó is, as always, a highly intelligent and convincing interpreter.

V. Vasan, September 2011

…Jenő Jandó performs with great passion, elegance, and taste…Bartók’s Four Piano Pieces…are a pure joy to hear. Perhaps it says something of an artist of Jandó’s stature, that though he can play difficult repertoire like the Four Piano Pieces so movingly, he also brings careful attention and humility to the First Term at the Piano.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2011

For the sixth volume in this complete recording of Béla Bartók’s piano music, we return to works written in the years following his student years. He was still very much in thrall with the composers of the Romantic era, the first of his Four Piano Pieces, a challenging work for left hand, dedicated to his Hungarian Royal Academy mentor, Istvan Thoman. Despite its unassuming title, the whole score lasts little short of half an hour and owes much to Liszt both in style and content, the finale a big virtuoso showpiece. The young composer’s first and highly ambitious orchestral score was the symphonic poem, Kossuth, its format of ten linked sections being unusual at the time, the score ending in a Marche funebre. The composer, also a highly gifted pianist, made a keyboard transcription of this emotive death march. In the same year, 1905, came the two Petits morceaux, piano arrangements of two projected songs discovered after his death. For the Two Elegies we move forward four years and the first intimation that his music was taking a very different road. Liszt is still there, but so too is a new atonality. The final eighteen tracks contain the educational album, First term at the piano, a series of very short pieces for beginners. Not to be confused with an earlier Bartók series from the highly acclaimed Hungarian pianist, Jenő Jandó, there are few who are more attuned to the idiom. His displays an admirable clarity in the most demanding passages, and brings an unassuming charm to the children pieces.

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