Adam Skoumal


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“With Adam Skoumal every note has a character and meaning, hiding sighs or smiles, lament or extasy, languor or sudden ardour… a great pianist has emerged.”

Philippe van den Bosh, Repertoire 1997, France

“…a pianist of a touch, capable of sensitive, deep penetration into the studied compositions.”

Lidové noviny, 12/98

“Adam Skoumal proves to be an imaginative virtuoso whose further recorded adventures will bear watching.”

Laurence Vittes, Gramophone 2003

“…he played one of the most difficult compositions in piano literature (Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto) with great technical command and mature musicality.”

Hudební rozhledy 2003

“Sensitive, completely confident and secure, technically brilliant, Adam Skoumal was convincing from every point of view. Mr. Skoumal further revealed his extraordinary artistic capabilities in a fiendishly difficult encore."

Von Rolf Bernhard Essig, Pressespiegel 2004

Fabulous Fireworks of Power and Courage

To conclude the German and Czech Culture Days in Rheinbach, Adam Skoumal, the pianist, charmed his audience presenting works by Robert Schumann, Fryderyk Chopin and Leoš Janáček. All week Rheinbach was honoring the EU expansion. The German and Czech Culture Days under the patronage of Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Jiří Dienstbier, former Czech minister of foreign affairs, built a symbolic cultural bridge to connect the new EU member. The effort proved successful, particularly due to Adam Skoumal’s piano concert concluding the Days. The representative of the young Czech generation of pianists and laureate of numerous awards from international competitions presented a real fireworks of music. He started simply, playing Haydn’s Sonata in F-major, op. 23. This seemingly obscure piano piece lost its coldness due to Skoumal’s precise and expressive rendering. The pianist's incredible technique was fully exploited here. The audience then experienced genuine musical ecstasy listening to works by Fryderyk Chopin and Robert Schumann. Chopin never intended to be superficially entertaining; his music was supposed to evoke different moods and to be very expressive. Skoumal’s rendering of Chopin’s Nocturno in C-minor, op. posth. and Scherzo No. 2 in B-minor, op. 31 was full of high tension, which was transformed into a musical storm of emotions. The same can be said of Schumann’s Faschingswang aus Wien, op. 26, the romantic five-suite sonata. Both in the humorous scherzino of the first rondo-like suite and in the turbulent finale, Skoumal’s striking jumps from fortissimo to piano at a great tempo created a breathtaking musical picture. Leoš Janáček brought the artist to his native heath. Janáček composed many of his works in a hideaway in relative obscurity and only in the last few years of his life did he become world-famous. These days, he is considered a Czech national composer. His sonata “I. X. 1905”, which carries his typically strong and brave style, was played masterfully by Skoumal. His own Variations on a Folk Song demonstrated the indisputable fact that Skoumal is a master of both interpretation and composition. The musical fireworks and The Days were ended by the audience’s frenetic applause.

Sabine Wyga (6. 5. 2004)

Adam SKOUMAL’s Piano Recital 11/08/2003 at the Prague Symphony Series

There are concerts and concerts. Not every concert is such an extraodinary musical event as was that of Adam Skoumal’s given as part of the World Piano Series presented by FOK concert agency. The concert took place November 8 at the Dvořák Hall, which was quite full. Skoumal’s interpretation shines with both brilliant technique and deep emotion as well as a sense of differences both in musical styles and within a single composer’s works – all that under the control of a brilliant intellect. Skoumal opened the concert with Bach’s Ricercar in C minor from Musical Offering (BWV 1078). His rendering featured a gentle touch and overall delicacy, on the one hand, and plasticity of individual voices on the other. Skoumal was not afraid to pedal to a reasonable extent either. This interpretation of Bach’s masterpiece served to bring a living message to the people of this epoch, miles from numerous bloodless, “wannabe authentic” interpretations. A totally different world opened up to the audience upon hearing the Sonata in F major, Op. 23 by J. Haydn: A seemingly endearing and fragile world with its sparkling passages and broken chords. However, Skoumal’s refined touch and utterly poetic tone gave us to understand that even Haydn’s music could be full of a beauty which deserves to be respected and honored. To follow, Skoumal chose Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op. 26 by R. Schumann, a splendid cycle breathing the spirit of Vienna and its waltzes, a work that is, unfortunately, too seldom staged in my opinion. Listening to this composition, I could not help feeling that Skoumal is a born Schumann interpreter. (I got that feeling as early as a few years ago while listening to his Schumann CD.) His Schumann is both wild and well-behaved, both poetic and fierce – simply wonderful. In the other half, we heard two works by Alexander Scriabin, his famous lyrical Etudé in C sharp minor, Op. 2, No. 1 and his typical, although still actually Neo-romantic, Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor. The artist imbued the entire sonata with Neo-romantic drama absolutely perfectly. The closing Presto con fuoco sparkled with fire.

The final number of the program was Skoumal’s own Variations on a Folk Song (1998). The theme, a Moravian melody, developed in 13 Neo-romantic variations. The technical demands correspond with the pianist’s enormous abilities. Therefore, I doubt there will appear many more pianists willing to study this composition.

The ecstatic (rightly ecstatic!) audience encored Skoumal four times, the last two encores once again his own compositions. Let me pause and ponder here about this feature of the artist. Skoumal makes his own compositions part of his recitals as a matter of course, reminding us of great pianists from the turn of the 19th century. My belief is that this post-modern era, which does not tie us up rigidly with all those different -isms, favors renewal of this tradition.

It would be wonderful if more musicians followed his example. Of course, not every pianist is as gifted nor as educated a composer as Adam Skoumal. His compositions are both profound and professional. He admits his world is that of late Romanticism, of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, which, in this epoch of no unified style, is neither conspicuous nor surprising. Skoumal’s compositions are very well accepted by audiences. The truth is that starting with the Renaissance, European thinking was somehow channeled, and even in the arts there occurred such terms as progressive and modernism, which may not apply generally, particularly these days. Not even Rachmaninoff was a textbook example of a modernist, which actually applies to the late works of Johann S. Bach, and many others, also. Yet, this music still draws – I even dare say larger and larger – audiences. You can say the same about Skoumal’s Neo-romantic compositions, because they are good in and of themselves. This is particularly true of The Exotic Dance, one of the encores, which I find formally balanced and very inventive. Moreover, Skoumal’s versatile abilities are also evidenced by the interesting and readable program notes written by himself.

Petr Pokorný, HR 2004

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