Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Leo? Janá?ek

Janácek revealed a very private and sensitive side of his musical personality when he composed In the Mists, a collection of four pieces for solo piano. Written in the winter of 1912-1913, the work came four years after the composer's much longer collection, On an Overgrown Path. In the Mists has an feeling of introspection about it, as it were an entry in the composer's musical "journal"; it lives up to its name by maintaining an air of distance, as if the piano were at times lost in a bank of clouds. In the Mists is not a showcase for pianistic pyrotechnics -- in fact it makes few technical demands of the performer -- but it requires a light, rhapsodic touch and close attention to the halting nature of its delicate phrases.

The first piece (Andante cantando) features a simple, yet haunting, theme that is notable for its occasional tonal ambivalence; the underlying accompaniment -- fluid, but constantly in motion -- adds an element of impatience. A more turbulent contrasting section juxtaposes a rigid, chorale-like figure, against a wave of ascending scales to create dramatic tension.

A nebulous, permissive quality pervades the second piece of the set, which seems to grant the performer free rein over interpretation. A quiet, noble theme and a much faster, rhythmically ambiguous figure alternate in a somewhat conversational manner -- though at times their interaction seems more competitive than polite.

The main tune of the third piece (andantino) -- a simple, yet beautiful seven-bar melody in G flat major -- is almost the sole focus of this short piece. It is stated in a number of keys, making its way through a graceful harmonic arch, before a brief melodic digression prepares the way for a restatement in the original key.

Reminiscent of an extemporaneous Gypsy doina, the melodies of the fourth piece fluctuate widely in pace and mood. The left hand, which plays a rather obsessive two-note figure, figure behaves like a strummed chord at the start of a doina, wherein the soloist (right hand) adds melodic flourishes.