CD České, moravské a slovenské lidové písně v klavírních proměnách / CD Czech, Moravian and Slovak Folksongs in Piano Transformations

CD České, moravské a slovenské lidové písně v klavírních proměnách / CD Czech, Moravian and Slovak Folksongs in Piano Transformations

When in the summer of 2008 I first heard Jiri Pazour improvising, I had the fine feeling that I was listening to a good musician who was also paying homage to the piano as an instrument that sensitively obeyed his hands, a musicians whose creative thinking is enchanted by the beauty of folksong. I was delighted to be encountering the discipline of classical improvisation expressed with such professional skill, today something so rare. Yes, today this is indeed rare even among young pianists who can play classical sonatas or the technically difficult music of Chopin or Liszt with distinction, but avoid improvisation, sometimes because their teachers warn them against ruining their pianistic hands, even though just like the organ the piano is an instrument of a kind that directly invites improvisation. In any case, improvisation used to be part of play on any instrument, even including singing. I was therefore very pleased when I obtained a recording with the eloquent title Czech, Moravian and Slovak Folksongs in Piano Transformations. These are truly imaginative transformations to which Jiri Pazour is led by the piano as instrument, its possibilities as well of course as his abilities as a player. The fact that the artist has taken well-known folksongs as his inspiration means that this CD is not just for those who can appreciate the pianistic skill and improvisational brilliance of the performer, but also for those who simply like folksong and through it can recognise pianistic skill with elements of virtuosity, Sometimes I had the same feeling that I get listening to Smetana's Czech Dances, composed with love and admiration for Czech folk dances but with at a level of artistic sophistication that only a real artist can do justice to.

I believe that people capable of appreciating the art of piano play and improvisation will find in these piano variations both rhythmic fidelity in folk dances and the art of modulation, together with a feeling for larger structure at points where the author's improvisation attains dramatic form only to return with humility to the simplicity of the folk song, usually cited at the start of the piece. Here we shall hear the music box in the song "I know One Beautiful Castle", or the dulcimer for example in the song "The Falcon Flew, White Bird", the narration of the story for the song" Jano Put Three Oxen to Graze" or elsewhere the ability to present the themes of three songs in one stream and still to reemain faithful to the overall structure of the composition. Each of the pieces is a stimulus to experiencing fully the atmospheres that the variations bring. But of course, this is already up to the imagination and musical experience of the listener.

Thanks to Jiri Pazour for this musical message, with its implicit wish that listeners who play the piano or another instrument should sometimes "branch out" into a bit of improvisation, not necessarily for public presentation, but for pleasure, or even for comfort in adversity. I have been doing it all my live and still do today, if with far less skill that Jiri Pazour.

Pavel Jurkovic


For as long as I have been doing concert piano improvisations, folksong has been my constant companion. The themes of folk songs have always been an inexhaustible musical inspiration. They have often been a springboard for improvisations of mine that have ended up very distant from the original model. At my public improvisation concerts, but also when playing for myself at home, I love taking folk songs and moulding them into various different musical forms. In this way they have become the basis for improvisations in different musical styles, improvisation in which the themes of several songs have been connected into one musical whole, and also a series of free musical impressions.

As basic materials I have chosen a number of folk songs that particularly appeal to me in one way or another. The one exception is Josef Leopold Zvonař's Bohemia Beautiful, Bohemia Mine, but in fact this song has become more or less part of folk repertoire. Some improvisations just happened spontaneously with no advance preparation during recording, while others where to some extent thought out beforehand. Three of these songs were recorded fourhanded using studio techniques.

The preparation and recording brought me a great deal of joy. I hope that the album will also give pleasure to listeners.

Jiri Pazour

CD Czech, Moravian and Slovak Folksongs in Piano Transformations - tracklist

01. The Roznov Clock
02. I am from Kutna Hora
03. Oh, Son, Son
04. Beskyd, Beskyd
05. The Moon Shines
06. Blue-Eyed Girl
07. I know One Beautiful Castle
08. My Darling, How Pretty You are to Me - Bohemia Beautiful, Bohemia Mine

09. The Falcon Flew, White Bird - I am a Shepherd, Old in Years

10. Who Has a Dark Girl - On these Lords Meadows - I Planted a Cherry

11. I Like to Love this Kind of Boy
12. Uhlans, Uhlans (four-handed)
13. Jano Put Three Oxen to Graze
14. If Only, You Lads
15. Good Night, My Love
16. Under the Oak (four-handed)
17. Dance, Dance, Dance (four-handed)
18. In our Courtyard

Audio samples