Splinters - 20th Century Hungarian Works for Piano / Mariann Marczi, piano


In this program of rarely heard 20th century piano pieces by seven Hungarian composers, pianist Mariann Marczi performs over an hour of music that has factored prominently in her academic studies and performing career. The album takes its name from the opening work, Splinters, Op. 6/d by György Kurtág (b.1926), a work Ms. Marczi had the opportunity to analyze in detail with the composer. She has also worked with two other composers represented here, Zoltán Jeney (b.1943) and Gyula Csapó (b.1955). A prizewinner at the International Smetana Piano Competition for her performance of Béla Bartók's Three Burlesques, Op. 8/c (a work included on this program), all of this music has been central to Mariann Marczi's repertory, a fact which is unmistakable in these authoritative and penetrating performances.

Kurtág's Splinters is a set of four miniatures, the thematic material of which has found a place in a number of his other compositions. You can hear the one minute Vivo - Prestissimo - Vivo from Splinters as the first of three album samples. György Ligeti's Fém (metal) from Book II of his Etudes opens with a rhythmically mechanical perpetual motion, silver-bright in the upper register of the keyboard before entering a quiet chorale section where it abruptly ends. The music of Zoltan Kodály forms the heart of the program; two of that composer's works follow the Ligeti. The first is Kodály's Méditation sur un motif de Claude Debussy, a contemplative work infused with Debussy's harmonies, but at the same time, wholly Kodály. The next is Kodály's Seven Piano Pieces, Op. 11. The second of the seven pieces, Complainte Székely, is the second of our three album samples. It's striking how strong the French influence is in Kodály's music. In fact, as Ms. Marczi points out in her album notes, a strong French coloration is unmistakable throughout the program.

The remainder of the program is given to Béla Bartók's Three Burlesques (the opening Presto being the third and final album sample), Zoltán Jeney's Ricercare and Arthur Rimbaud in the Desert, concluding with Gyula Csapó's The Ultimate Goal.

This recording is from the Odradek Records label, a recently launched non-profit seeking venture, one which turns all proceeds over to their artists once production and distribution expenses are met. It's a model the label contends gives exceptional artists a cost effective opportunity to get into a recording studio and the freedom to select their own repertoire. It's a strategy that has certainly worked well in the case of Splinters.