Tomášek: Fortepiano sonatas

Petra Matějová fortepiano
Supraphon SU 4223-2
Sonatas opp. 13, 14 & 26/48

Part of an ambitious Supraphon series entitled ‘Music from eighteenth-century Prague’, these fortepiano sonatas by Tomášek only just slip in, being composed during the period from 1799 to 1805. It is clear from the elements of romanticism already apparent, in the composer’s idiom, that Prague was very much in the mainstream of European musical thought at this time – we would recall Mozart’s operas which premiered in Prague rather than Vienna – and while Tomášek was only four years younger than Beethoven, he survived into the middle of the nineteenth century, living long enough to teach Hanslick, the critical musical scourge of end-of-the-century Vienna. There are similarities in these works with Beethoven’s piano sonatas, but there is already also a romantic lyricism and elegance which both looks back to Mozart and Haydn and on to Schubert. Petra Matejová plays a copy of an 1815 Bertsche fortepiano, and her full-toned sound and formidable technique bring Tomášek’s imaginative and inventive music vividly to life. Mention is made in her very informative programme note of a series of Eclogues  which Tomášek also composed which sound as if they would make interesting listening, while the composer also wrote symphonies, piano concertos and chamber music. Looking at the extensive list of recordings already made in this excellent Supraphon series, if the many unknown composers are as good as Tomášek, it has been a very worthwhile exercise. And full marks for finding the cover painting – Portrait of a Lady at a Pianoforte  by Adèle Romany.

D. James Ross