Goran Filipec’s January, 2018 release of music for solo piano by the Croatian composer Blagoje Bersa (GP767) has received a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award in the magazine’s March issue. Jed Distler’s review is a recital in itself and well worth reading in full. In addition to the 1897 Second Sonata, which is the release’s most substantial work, the 11-item programme includes Bersa’s Fantaisie-Impromptu (“Liszt on steroids”), the melodically intriguing Po načinu starih (“pinches of mint in a vanilla pudding”) and Marcia trionfale (“a relentless invasion of octaves in all directions”).
“Although Bersa was the most influential Croatian composer at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century,” says Filipec, “his music stayed pretty much unknown to international audiences. Remarkable in his musical intentions, Bersa is a composer who will surely be appreciated by music lovers.”
Jed Distler has the final word in support: “I cannot recommend this release highly enough and, needless to say, I look forward to Vol 2.”
On Sunday April 9th 2017, as part of Estonian Music Days, the oldest and biggest contemporary classical music festival in Estonia (www.eestimuusikapaevad.ee/en/), the French pianist Nicolas Horvath gave a solo concert dedicated to the renowned Estonian composer Jaan Rääts, who is celebrating his 85th birthday this year. In addition to various works by Rääts, including Sonatas Nos. 9 and 10, Radio 4 and the world première of Prelude (2017), Horvath performed pieces dedicated to the composer, written by other composers who studied with Rääts: Avi Benjamin, Raimo Kangro, Tõnis Kaumann, Mihkel Kerem, Kerri Kotta, Tõnu Kõrvits, Vsevolod Pozdejev, Timo Steiner and Erkki-Sven Tüür. The concert, organised in collaboration with the French Institute in Estonia, took place in Radio Studio 1 of Estonian Public Broadcasting. After the concert Naxos Head of Production Peter Bromley, on behalf of Grand Piano, and Nicolas Horvath, presented Mr Rääts with a copy of the pianist’s newly released Grand Piano recording of Volume 1 of the 10 Piano Sonatas [GP765: Nos. 1–4, 9 and 10].