Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Farewell to a giant of the keyboard

During the week that I was setting up this blog and preparing for its launch, sad news of the death of pianist Antonin Kubalek was all over the internet. He passed awayat the age of 75, from complications following surgery to remove a brain tumor, on January 19th 2011. He was born in Czechoslovakia in 1935 and by the early 1960s had already released his first recordings on the Supraphon label. In 1968 he moved to Canada where he rapidly became a favorite and acquired a large following due to his frequent broadcasts on CBC Radio, and his many collaborations with Canadian musical luminaries. His recording of the rarely performed Korngold piano sonatas was actually produced by Glenn Gould, who very much admired his playing.

Of his many recordings, the ones that are really outstanding in my opinion are his recording of the Czech Dances by Bedrich Smetana and the two CDs he released of various piano works by Johannes Brahms, including profound interpretations of the Op. 116 to Op. 119 works. Unfortunately, most of his recordings are no longer readily available, but hopefully the label(s) that produced them will rectify the situation and reissue them in the near future.

Not the best way to launch a new blog, but I felt the need to pay my respects to a great musician who, by his deep artistry, opened my ears and mind to some unusual piano pieces. May his achievements resonate in the memory of all musicians.

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