“Humoresques” = DVORAK: Eight Humoresques, Op. 101; REGER: Five Humoresques, Op. 20; RACHMANINOFF: Humoresque, Op. 10:5 (Morceaux de salon); SCHUMANN: Humoresque, Op. 20 – Daria Rabotkina, p – MSR Classics MS 1662, 67:55 ****:

This is a delightful concept program by Russian artist Daria Rabotkina, currently Assistant Professor of Piano at Texas State University in San Marcos, which Recital Hall of the Performing Art Center was the site of this recording. The audio, somewhat dry but very soft and clear, leaves little to be desired.

Antonin Dvorak

Antonin Dvorak

Dvorak’s opus, written in the village of Vysoka at a time when he was also director of the National Conservatory in America, doesn’t really fall into the dictionary definition of humoresque as a musical composition of humorous or capricious character. Instead, they feel like miniature tone poems of highly melodic provenance, a description of unknown places and vivid emotions. Reger, on the other hand, is positively jovial in his obsessive and maniacal contrasts among his five pieces, rhythmically pointed and dexterously toying with our expectations.

One doesn’t normally expect much in the way of humor in the music of Rachmaninoff, but this early opus 10 belies that assumption with a work full of “capricious” elements couched in the composer’s trademark lyricism. But by far, the greatest composition here is that of Schumann; his staple Humoresque is one of the foundation stones of the piano literature, the two polls of Schumann’s Florestan and Eusebius (witty and sensitive) providing a contrast superb in its evocation of the human condition.

Throughout it all, Rabotkina evinces her own sensitivity and attunement to this varied collection of composers, moving from the gossamer to the percussive in terms of touch and technique, adeptly adapting to the needs of the moment and the composer.

A fine recording.

—Steven Ritter

Link to more info and track samples here: