things lived and Dreamt album cover

On January 13th,  Canadian pianist Francine Kay released her latest album on the Analekta record label called “Things Lived and Dreamt”.  

Noted for an extraordinary range of colour and poetic brilliance, Kay has performed extensively in Europe, North America, and Asia. Performing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and Lincoln Centre amongst others. She has performed with the Pendrecki, Avalon, and Arianna string quartets to name a few and is currently on Faculty at Princeton where she is a professor of Piano.

This latest CD “Things Lived and Dreamt” is dedicated to music written by Czech composers such as Smetana, Dvořák, Suk, Janáček and Kaprálová.  The album explores the rich musical culture: evocative melodies, inspired harmonization, dance rhythms, and the variety of moods that are so often found in Czech music.

Putting the album together ws really the result of a number of events coming together at the right time. “ It was really a wonderful confluence of events…I think it was a meant to be kind of situation,” explains Kay. A number of years ago she had discovered a piano cycle called “Things Lived and Dreamt” by Josef Suk and as Kay states, “It was an immediate love at first encounter… I just knew that I had to play this music. There was something about it that just spoke to me…I think the idea of recording really was born in that moment”

Around the same time as Kay discovering this music of Suk, Kay was also exploring music written by women composers. It’s then that she came across the music of Vítězslava Kaprálová. “I just started listening and I had the same kind of instantaneous love response to Kaprálová. Once again, I knew this music was music I wanted to play and that I wanted to share widely,” says Kay

The two movement Janáček sonata titled “From the Street” was already in Francine Kay’s repertoire, and finally, Kay was asked to perform some Dvořák pieces on a  recital. This culmination of events would become the CD “Things Lived and Dreamt.”

The entire CD plays as if the listener is taking a very intimate journey with the pianist and the composers. Indeed, the centre piece of recording Suk’s “Things Lived and Dreamt” is inspired by events in Suk’s life. As Kay explains, “Suk did refer to this cycle as an artist’s diary, which helps create this level of intimacy in the music.”

Special mention should also be made of the recording quality of the disc. Clive Allen at Analekta records has very successfully captured Kay’s marvelous performance of this music and the piano in a way that enhances the beauty and intimacy of this music.

“Things Lived and Dreamt” demonstrates an excellent cross section of what Czech piano music has to offer; from the folksy music of Smetana and Dvorak, to the impressionistic, and more modern influenced music of Suk and Kaprálová.

This is a beautiful recording that is well worth listening to! Why not take a trip to Czechia and wander in the warm, inviting music of these Bohemian composers, performed by a pianist who understands the amazing color palettes and moods that this music has to offer.