“With God’s help and favour, I will one day be a Liszt in technique, a Mozart in composing,” so wrote Smetana in his diary in January 1843. This sentence reflects the sheer determination and confidence in his own talent that compelled the 19 year old composer – in defiance of his parents – to leave for Prague so as to continue his studies and eventually become one of the best-known Czech music creators. The beginning of his journey was fraught with tough, uncertain material conditions, and the young Smetana had to be tenacious indeed. Jitka Čechová’s new recording features early pieces written in 1845 and 1846, years of intensive study and the outset of Smetana’s independent artistic career. Many of them are being released on CD for the very first time; some of them were used by the composer in his later works or revised. The pianist Jitka Čechová has completed the seventh instalment of the currently most comprehensive recording of Bedřich Smetana’s piano works. Owing to her zest and faultless interpretation, we now have the opportunity to savour this remarkable and still underestimated layer of Smetana’s oeuvre within the context of the greatest 19th– century composers of piano music.
“Čechová gooses the variations on the Czech folksong, ‚Sowing the millet‘ with perky accents, highlighted inner voices and some truly explosive octaves…no quirky detail of the sprawling, early and ambitious 30-minute G minor Sonata goes unnoticed on [her] watch…a fascinating and excellently produced instalment of an important cycle.“
Gramophone, May 2015