Prague-born Julius Schulhoff (1825-1898) cut quite a musical figure during the Romantic Era, concertizing throughout Europe, especially Paris, befriending such greats as Chopin, who heard him play, and Tomasek, one of his many mentors. He also composed piano music--- a handful of works, really--- virtually unknown today. His posterity is, well, this new Genesis release, period; fortunately for us we have it at all, considering.
Schulhoff, admittedly, was not a great composer; however, he was an interesting one and his music, although not particularly memorable, possesses enough élan, virtuosity and romanticism to be eminently appealing.
For example, the Sonata in Fm, Op. 37 (dedicated to Liszt), the gem of this collection, is absolutely captivating, its opening Chopinesque Allegro spiraling outwards to the enchanting second movement Andante and concluding with an unabashed, boisterous Allegro agitato finale.
Complementing the sonata is Schulhoff's next longest opus, the Bohemian Caprice, Op. 10, using the variation form to cull and foment thematic and lyrical Czech themes in humorous, delightful ways. He had a penchant for such, obviously, as his small body of works includes other such "musical postcards": Souvenir de Vienne, Op. 28, Souvenir de Varsovie, Op. 30 and the Caprices sur des Themes Hongrois, Op. 31. He loved to travel.
The selection of etudes from the Op. 13 displays a mixture of Lisztian fireworks, Chopin note-spinning and, especially No. 10, Mendelssohnian lyricism. It makes one wish that all the etudes had been recorded, instead of, let's say, the rather frivolous Impromptu-Polka, Op. 33 or Galop di Bravura, Op. 17. Ah, well. Never mind.
Notable amongst the other more attractive compositions nonetheless are the lovely Romance, Op. 49, whose beginning is more than slightly reminiscent of Chopin's Impromptu, Op. 51, the nostalgic Cantabile, Op. 26 and Romanza, Op. 2, No.1, the melancholy Elegie, Op. 2, No. 3, and the short, haunting Berceuse, Op. 53.
As always, the champion of lost composers, pianist Adrian Ruiz does not disappoint. Nor does he flinch from digging in as far as he can with the music at hand--- the sum of which we would probably never have heard, otherwise. On top of this, the sound given the piano is full, immediate, and real. Just all-in-all delightful!
[Running time: 73:19]