Here are some early recordings by the Czech pianist Pavel Štěpán (1925-1998), from mid-50s Supraphon LP issues. He recorded a set of the complete piano works of composer Josef Suk in the late 1970s (issued in a 3 cd set that for some reason is not available in the US, but can be had from Czech outlets), but this is his first recording of these works. He certainly makes a strong case for these beautifully impressionistic, very personal works. Štěpán’s style is tightly organized (perhaps a bit too tight at times), very well controlled rhythmically, which is where the power of his style primarily resides, and if his tone as reproduced on these recordings is not exactly seductive, it is pleasing gradated dynamically, and offers subtle rewards that may take a second hearing to fully appreciate. That was the case for me with the Schubert disc, which at first seems rather business-like. Certainly the development of the first movement of the Sonata is dashed off in a perfunctory manner, but elsewhere this no-nonsense reading has many poetic touches. The slow movement is particularly well sounded and phrased, and overall it is his attention to the shapes of the phrases that is the hallmark of his style, along with a tremendous clarity of textures.
Josef Suk: Through Life and Dream, Op. 30
About Friendship, Op. 36
Supraphon B 10017
Schubert: Sonata in A Major, D. 959
Impromptu in C Minor, D. 899, No. 1
Impromptu in G Major, D. 899, No. 3
Supraphon SUA 10195
Pavel Štěpán, Piano
Musical scores to Suk works (in PDF format) and cover scans included.
Note: the Impromptus will not fit on a cdr with the rest of the tracks.
From the collection of Mike Gartz. Thanks!