BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Jan Bartoš’s playing of the preludes is magnificent, both in projecting the mesmerizing impetus of the opening and closing numbers and in realizing the delicately reimagined Impressionism of the third and fifth.... The cycle, Dreams, is from the latter pad of his career when deafness had reduced him to a shadow of his former combative self. While these pieces offer plenty of the bracing, nationalist Smetana, nearly all tend toward wistful reflection. Bartoš is an ideal interpreter here, providing abundant brilliance without sacrificing poetry, notably in the two examples of rural merrymaking where plentiful Listzian exuberance is balanced by skilful rhythmic pointing and a subtle rubato revealing the heart of these deeply-felt works. Beautifully recorded, this is one of the best and certainly most stimulating recordings of Czech piano music of recent years.
Jan Smaczny, April 2023
THE ART DESK
Anyone interested in 20th century music should investigate Supraphon’s box set of Miloslav Kabeláč’s eight symphonies. When you've done that, get hold of pianist Jan Bartoš's engrossing recital disc. Kabeláč’s relationship with the communist regime in post-war Czechoslovakia was often strained, though things improved after Stalin’s death. He was fascinated by cosmology (“…everything in the world and the universe has a centre around which it revolves…”) and his music, though often dissonant, is invariably rooted in tonality. Kabeláč’s Eight Preludes for Piano were premiered in 1957 and have an otherworldly feel. The “Preludio ostinato” sounds simultaneously hopeful and resigned, the opening bars’ upward trajectory running out of steam. No. 3, “Prelude sognante” suggests a glimpse of the world through half-closed eyes, the mood shattered by a thunderous “Prelude corale”. They’re terrific little pieces, wonderfully played here by Jan Bartoš. Listen to how he nails the closing prelude’s fierce, defiant coda.
Equally fascinating is Kabeláč’s Motifs from Exotic Lands from 1958-9: 10 glimpses of what we’d now call "world music", filtered through his compositional sensibilities. Bartos’s booklet essay includes Kabeláč’s recollection of discovering non-western music (“a literally shocking experience… for a person trained solely in European music, a revelation…”. I’ve had the “Javanese Motif” on repeat in recent months, and a sparely harmonised East Asian flute improvisation is haunting. Presumably Kabeláč had to rely on recordings as source material, the set including Brazilian, Middle Eastern and Inuit themes. That Kabeláč especially loved Indian and Japanese music, lecturing on both, makes you warm to him even more. Smetana’s Dreams makes for an appealing filler, a set of six nostalgic “morceaux caractéristiques”. “In the Salon” is fun, Bartos’s tempo ebbing and flowing as if he’s conversing with assorted acquaintances. His “By the castle” is imposing, and Smetana’s take on Bohemian folk festivities is great fun. A remarkable disc, all three performances captured live in exemplary sound.
Graham Rickson, October 2023
THE SUNDAY TIMES
Novak — pupil of Dvořák, friend and rival of his son-in-law Josef Suk — may not rank as highly as Hrůša’s “Czech five” (those two plus Smetana, Janáček and Martinů). But this music — the youthful piano concerto, a mature set of piano pieces and a tone poem akin to Dvořák’s folk tale masterpieces — hovers between Dvořák, Liszt and the young Strauss and is worth knowing in Hrůša and Bartoš’s idiomatic performances.
Hugh Canning, November 2020
THE GUARDIAN I ALBUM OF THE WEEK AND MONTH
The Concerto is crammed with hefty bravura solo writing that is dispatched on the recording by Jan Bartoš with suitable muscularity… but it’s the work that ends the disc, the symphonic poem Toman and the Wood Nymph, that justifies Hrůša’s enthusiasm… It’s an effective piece, full of striking, pictorial invention, and Hrůša and the Prague Radio orchestra project it with every bit of the vividness it needs.”
EUROPADISC I ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Bartoš’s playing is ardent and committed, with sterling support from the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hrůša and well-balanced sound… Hrůša’s performance with the Prague Radio orchestra stands out from all others for its technical aplomb, full-throttle passion, expressive sensitivity and superb modern sound. Anyone with any sort of interest in Central European music at the turn of the century ought to hear this disc for the extra perspectives it affords on a fascinating figure of the period…Very warmly recommended!
THE ART DESK
We get fantastic playing from pianist Jan Bartoš, treating the music with the seriousness it deserves and throwing in a delectable bonus in the shape of At Dusk… It’s brilliantly performed, Hrůša letting rip when needed. I’d suggest waiting til the neighbours are out and turning the volume up: the closing bars are terrifying. A fascinating introduction to an unjustly neglected figure.
It’s excellent to hear this youthful work (Piano Concerto) in a CD performance as well prepared and executed as this… ”
NPR 10 CLASSICAL ALBUMS TO USHER IN THE NEXT DECADE
The Jan Bartoš's album featuring Janáček's Piano Works is among 10 best classical albums of 2019 recommended by NPR: „Czech pianist Jan Bartoš, in his own singular voice, has found his way into the composer's head,“
Read the complete list and reviews here:
MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR 2019
With his beautifully pellucid and warm piano tone, Bartoš’s interpretations can easily stand comparison with those of the authoritative Rudolf Firkušný.
GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Jan Bartoš's new album featuring Janáček's Piano Works has received a wonderful review together with Editor's Choice in Gramophone September issue. „Jan Bartoš draws you closely into Janáček’s compelling sound world, music both exposed and somehow personal, lines and details delivered from the very beginning with imagination and deep thought.“ Read the complete review: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/…s-jan-bartos
EUROPADISC TOP 10 RECORDINGS OF 2019
The Jan Bartoš's Janáček album is among Europadisc Top 10 Recordings of 2019: „Splendidly idiomatic and emotionally draining performances of Janáček’s solo piano music... Bartoš really penetrates to the heart of this music“.
Read the complete list and reviews here:
"II sait donc quel sens prêter à telle résonance, quelle liberté prendre avec Ie métronome ou comment étager les voix, sans pour autant prétendre nous donner de lecon d’analyse.
Démontrant autant de tact que de variété d’articuIation, il aborde Ie programme avec une intelligence rare."
Nicolas Derni, September 2019
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
“Bartoš is excellent at capturing the intimacy of these unpretentious pieces with beautiful legato lines … these well-recorded performances are certainly recommendable.”
Jan Smaczny, September 2019
"Piano music has accompanied Leos Janacek all his life. His compositional development from late Romanticism to Czech national style can also be traced through three great works and smaller ones around them. The Czech pianist Jan Bartos artistically and engagingly enlivens this fine and special musical language."
Remy Franck, July 2019
BBC RADIO 3 RECORD REVIEW
"Jan Bartoš has an instinctive understanding of Janáček's musical language, the intimacy mixed with intense emotion. The recorded sound is up close and personal, a good match for the playing.”
Andrew McGregor, June 2019
"In his physical expression, Jan Bartoš is modest and simultaneously immersed in his inner self, while stepping completely out of himself to let the music speak. This is not only a question of character, but also of self-discipline and the ability to concentrate all energy on one’s playing, from which strong emotions gush forth afterwards. He knows exactly when to take a short breath in the music and when to let it sound in all its breadth. He transitions naturally from a meditative mood to a raging storm, from gloominess to hope."
Dina Šnejdarova, April 2019
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
"Jan Bartoš has a distinguished pedigree – the last student of Ivan Moravec, he has also been taught by Alfred Brendel – and his approach to the keyboard is quintessentially refined. Everything in this recording is outstanding... Under Bartoš’s warm, supple, and disciplined touch the first movement of that virtuosic, Haydn influenced early sonata emerges in unhurried grandeur, and the Adagio unfurls with grace; there are no histrionics in the Scherzo or the concluding Allegro. The E major Sonata is sometimes dismissed as trivial, but the delicacy of Bartoš’s treatment reveals both its quartet-like textures and its feline subtlety... The Arietta of Op. 111 is here gorgeous beyond words: its serene beauty burns brightly, then folds itself in towards an ecstatic, trill-garlanded conclusion."
Michael Church, October 2018
SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL
The Mozart album has been chosen among the Best Recordings of 2017 according to the live review site Seen and Heard International. What eminent American critic Bernard Jacobson said:
“Closer to the end of the year, this time not in the concert hall but on the disc, an outstanding Supraphon Mozart recording had me thinking forwards rather than back. From the very first notes of the solo part, Bartoš offers playing that might be characterized as ‘full of thinking’ – reminiscent, perhaps, of what we used to hear in the speech of Sir John Gielgud or the singing of Sir Peter Pears. It is no more than appropriate that two such masters of the voice should come to mind, for Bartoš’s pianism spans the gamut from speaking eloquence to singing grace with the utmost naturalness.”
Bernard Jacobson, December 2017
THE SUNDAY TIMES
“These live recordings come with Alfred Brendel's endorsement: Bartos pairs the turbulent D minor concerto with Brendel's chamber arrangement of the earlier A major as a quasi-piano quintet. The late Bělohlávek and his superb orchestra revel in Mozart's dark, dramatic harmonies, recalling Don Giovanni, while the soloist's crisp articulation and singing legato are never far from the spirit of the composer's sunnier comedies.”
Hugh Canning, August 2017
“Jan Bartoš, on the other hand, plays on a modern piano and is joined by a steel-strung quartet with the standard line-up for K414. The acoustic here is more spacious, allowing for greater ease of balance between the instruments, although you are aware throughout that Bartoš is careful never to eclipse his partners. In the hymnlike slow movement, he spins a beguiling, sustained melody that contrasts wonderfully with his sprightly playing elsewhere.”
David Thrasher, October 2017
HIFI & RECORDINGS
“Bartoš possesses a very lively and richly colorful keystroke, as proven by the audience’s lively ovation at the end of the recording. Bělohlávek presents himself as an attentive accompanist who excellently supports the rhythmic nuances of the soloist as well as arouses his Philharmonic to a play full of expression. Also for this reason – apart from the good piano sound – I recommend this recording. Definitely worth a listen!”
Ludwig Flich, September 2017
MUSIQUE POUR TOUS
“This CD excels by the virtuosic interpretation of the soloist Jan Bartoš. The captured recording of a concert performance emphasizes the musical sensitivity of the performer gifted with a unique inspiration in the famous Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor K. 466 which is incredibly lucid and full of light. The Czech Philharmonic, loyal to it musical tradition, is simply perfect. The recording is accompanied by one of the most popular concertos from Mozart, no. 12 in A major K414 in a chamber version for a string quartet and piano. Jan Bartoš shines here as well and proves that he is a brilliant artist. It is a seminal recording – a true gift for the ears.”
Philippe Adelfang, October 2017
“On this very beautiful Mozart release, Jan Bartoš plays both piano concertos No. 20 and 12 very elegantly. His performance is stylistically perfect, technically flawless and playful. Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic supply an excellent accompaniment in the Concerto No. 20. Concerto No. 12 is presented as the piano quintet. Bartoš and the Dolezal Quartet play the piece with the greatest ease and arouse much enthusiasm.”
Remy Franck, January 2018
“Jan Bartoš has all the prerequisites of an outstanding Mozart player in his flowing melodic line, sparkling passagework, sensitive phrasing, especially in the slow movement, and a sure instinct for the rise and fall of the music. This disc will be warmly welcomed by anyone, like me, who relishes Mozart filled with warmth and vibrancy.”
Huntley Dent, September 2017
“Jan Bartoš is one of our most interesting and characterful pianists today. It is clear that when recording the D minor concerto, all involved – Bartoš, the Czech Philharmonic, and Jiří Bělohlávek – were in excellent shape; no edits were made to the recording. Bartoš's piano sounds both manly and emotive. The pianist builds his interpretation on a strict pulse; his technique is brilliant and precise, the copious and particularly effective passages in octaves evoke storms or torrents, especially in the left hand.”
Věroslav Němec, September 2017