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Read what music critics are saying about Giorgio Koukl as performer and composer, excerpted from media coverage of live concerts, radio broadcasts, and especially about his recent compact discs on Naxos.
  Reviews
 


Martinů: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 1
Naxos 8.557914. (57' 10")
Release date: 21 November 2006


"Rhythmic precision, meticulous voicing, and a clean, clear sound."
  —Mike D. Brownell, All Music Guide

"Giorgio Koukl always channels his considerable technique toward putting Martinu's message first."
  —Jed Distler, Classics Today

"Koukl has the technical authority for these works. His playing gives off a sense of being at ease, with the ability to extend himself as needed."
  —Barry Brenesal, Fanfare

"...it may prove to be the cycle."
  —Alan M. Watkins, rec.music.opera

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Koukl has the technical authority for these works. His playing gives off a sense of being at ease, with the ability to extend himself as needed.

Koukl’s major competition comes from Emil Leichner, [...] Both pianists are fine, but in general I prefer Koukl’s greater presence and liveliness.

Sound on this pair of volumes is close, lifelike and reverberant, like a good seat in a small hall. [...] Definitely recommended, with hopes for more in the near future.

Barry Brenesal, Fanfare, May/June 2007   [this review also discusses Vol. 2]

[...] technically fine, he plays with great rhythmic control and does not seek to impose himself on the music. Assuming he will be our guide through the rest of the series, I have little doubt he will prove a reliable one. He is aided by excellent recorded sound and the issue is well-documented.

Another worthy projected series is up-and-running from Naxos - they should certainly be giving this one high priority. This is attractive music with considerable merits and experience of Firkušný's marvellous record suggests that there are even better things to come.

Patrick C. Waller, Musicweb, December 2006

I much enjoyed his playing with the energetic sections wonderfully clean and agile. Try track 20, the Charleston from the Trois Esquisses, to sample his virtuosity and Martinu's sense of fun. He is also at home in the pieces of beauty, Le Noel being particularly pleasing.

David's Review Corner, November 2006

Now comes a budget Naxos in Volume One of Martinu's complete piano music and, in my view, it's another winner and [...] it may prove to be *the* cycle.   [...]

In my opinion, this is very great playing and a fascinating study not only of Martinu's "Paris" period (Good morning, Mr Dada) but of a composer whose fascination with jazz syncopation came from an earlier era and another continent.

Absolutely recommended. Naxos 8557914.

Alan M. Watkins, rec.music.opera, 27 November 2006

Artistic quality 9/9 Sound quality.

Most of the short cycles featured on the first volume in Naxos' complete Martinu piano music survey represent the composer's early style, where French effervescence, the Czech speech patterns of Janácek, and American jazz idioms delightfully collide. They're also pianistically effective and deserve more serious attention among young pianists looking to build interesting programs. Like his one-time teacher Rudolf Firkusny, pianist Giorgio Koukl always channels his considerable technique toward putting Martinu's message first. For example, a greenhorn virtuoso might easily be tempted to make the churning textures and motoric drive characterizing the Allegro vivo third movement of the Esquisses de Danses into a flashy toccata. However, Koukl's steady moderation allows the melodies to truly sing—and even dance. His supple and debonair performances of the eight jazz-inspired Preludes favorably compare to Emil Leichner's relatively drier, leaner ones on Supraphon. Perhaps Leichner imbues Window on the Garden's more lyrical moments with a little more breathing room and tender inflection, but there's much to be said for Koukl's warmer, more colorful sonority, with upgraded sonics to match. Needless to say, I look forward to further volumes.

Jed Distler, Classics Today, January 2007

Pianomusiken upptar nästan en fjärdedel av Martinů's produktion, men har alltid stått i skuggan av orkester- och kammarverken. Naxos påbörjade utgivning av tjeckens kompletta pianoverk, med Giorgio Koukl som exekutör, är välkommen.

Dock är jag måttligt förtjust i den första cd:n med stycken från 1920-38. Flimret av tjeckisk folkton, fransk modernism och amerikansk populärmusik - som i den Scott Joplin-lika "Foxtrot" - plus närvaron av Stravinskijs snacksaliga ande, får det att låta som potpurrier till stumfilm.

Glimtvis anar man en tekniskt originell tonsättare med öra för ett mer tidlöst vemod. Giorgio Koukl utför de otaliga synkoperna med bravur, men är inte lika omsorgsfull med dynamiken.

Erik Bergqvist, SvD, 6 December 2006 [Swedish]

Pianist Giorgio Koukl does an admirable job of maintaining these interesting facets in this first volume of solo piano works. Koukl was first introduced to the music of Martinu through venerable pianist Rudolf Firkusny, who was not only a friend of Martinu but also one of the greatest interpreters of his music. Koukl's playing has a great deal in common with Firkusny's. This performance is marked by rhythmic precision, meticulous voicing, and a clean, clear sound that is distinct and audible. Koukl deftly switches between the extremely varied demands of the pieces on this album, from the more virtuosic Preludes H. 181 to the charming character pieces such as the Fables H. 138 and Christmas H. 167. This album is highly recommended not only for fans of Martinu's music, but also for those who appreciate superb solo piano playing.

Mike D. Brownell, All Music Guide, [December] 2006

Einmal mehr zeigt sich, dass die Naxos-Produktionen nicht nur Repertoire-Füller sind, sondern im Ernstfall musikalischer Entdeckungen auch alle Ansprüche gültiger Informationen erfüllen. [...] Die vorliegenden, von Koukl wendig, wenn nötig auch brillant entworfenen Stücke bestätigen Martinus Internationalität, sein Vermögen, verschiedenste Gegenden, Stimmungen zu inhalieren und in Musik zu transformieren.

Peter Cossé, Klassik Heute, 25 January 2007 [German]

The many facets of Martinu’s musical personality shine through both CDs. Both of them are beautifully planned with the first featuring his fascination in the late 1920s with jazz. [...] Giorgio Koukl manages this repertoire with great poise and considerable verve in the jazz-inspired works [...]

The second disc [...] Koukl’s performances are idiomatic and rather more colourful than on the first disc.

Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine   [this review also discusses Vol. 1]

More praise for Giorgio Koukl in the Index of Reviews.

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