Adriana Magdovski plays Franck and Svete

This new release from Slovenian pianist Adriana Magdovski pairs César Franck’s mighty Prelude, Chorale & Fugue with a piano sonata by leading Slovenian composer Tomaž Svete (b. 1956), which is dedicated to Magdovski.

Although composed just over 100 years apart, there are clear musical, textural and thematic connections between the two works; for example, the Svete includes a Passaccaglia, Corale and Fugue, and the Svete Sonata, although unmistakably modernist in its harmonic language, opens with a fantasy-like movement which mirrors the improvisatory atmosphere of the Prelude of the Franck. Magdoskvi handles both deftly: in the Franck, she achieves a wonderful sense of spontaneity in the Prelude, with its shimmering opening arpeggios, balanced by a masterful command of the material. Tastefully-judged rubato is complemented by precise articulation and a range of dynamic colour to bring drama and sensuality to this opening movement.

The Choral opens with a graceful seriousness, the “chorale” theme elegantly presented. The rolling arpeggiated chords which embellish the theme are masterfully played. One has a true sense of the grandeur of this music in Magdovski’s hands, as she allows the music to build in stature throughout the movement. Her attention to detail is impressive, as is her appreciation of the music’s architecture. This is particularly apparent in the Fugue which is virtuosic yet thoughtful. Overall, a very accomplished and authoritative account.

The Svete Sonata provides an interesting, more linear contrast to the voluptuous, polyphonic textures of the Franck, yet shares much of the same seriousness. Magdovski proves to be equally at home in this repertoire as in the Franck. With graceful phrasing, sensitively nuanced dynamics and a clear sense of the music’s structural and emotional narrative, this is an impressive companion to the Franck.