Jiří Bárta

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RUBINSTEIN Cello Sonatas:


No. 1 in D; No. 2 in G • Jiří Bárta (vc); Hamish Milne (pn) • HYPERION 67660 (70:55)

Fanfare August 2009


Over the years, Hyperion has carved an estimable niche for itself as a purveyor of undeservedly obscure music. Its formula is simple. First, find the right performers who would enthusiastically play that neglected stuff as if it were the end of the world; second, record their efforts in faultless, state of the art sound. Here cellist Jiří Bárta and Hamish Milne (one of Hyperion’s mainstay pianists) once again do just that.

Anton Rubinstein (1829–1894) is not to be confused with his younger brother, Nikolai, the dedicatee of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, who, upon hearing Tchaikovsky demonstrate it, roundly damned the piece. Anton, like his brother, was a formidable, high-energy-level pianist whom Clara Schumann thought somewhat over the top. He was also a composer who wrote music by the yard in virtually all genres, including opera. Brahms, though he admired Rubinstein’s piano-playing, lamented the fact that he composed with an often-alarming lack of self criticism.

By the evidence presented here, Anton Rubinstein was a larger than life figure with fantastic pianistic chops and a musical imagination of extraordinary fecundity. To put him in perspective, I can do no better than to quote Richard Strauss’s self-deprecating characterization of himself as “a first class second class composer.” That assessment surely fits Anton Rubinstein, but given performances of this caliber, the illusion that he is more than that is almost palpable.

All the above notwithstanding, I will return to this recording in the future whenever I want to hear performances of rare precision, fluency, and Romantic warmth.

William Zagorski



Moscheles- Hummel Cellosonatas. Jiri Barta-Hamish Milne.

Hyperion 2006


'Following its delightful versions of his piano concerti, led from the keyboard by Howard Shelley, Hyperion continues its championship of Moscheles's work with the elegant cello sonata dedicated to Schumann. He is often bracketed with his contemporary Hummel, whose own cello sonata is a classic of spacious romanticism. Both are lovingly played by the Czech cellist Jiri Barta'

(The Observer)


'The lion's share of the material falls to Hamish Milne, whose liquid-clear articulation allows the music to flow unimpeded by any mannerisms whatsoever. For his part cellist Jiri Barta provides an equally virtuosic and eloquent rendition - taste and idiomatic faithfulness being the key criteria'

(The Strad)


'Bárta and Milne strike just the right note: these aren't bravura pieces, and they play them as would two friends convivially making music in the drawing-room and deriving unemphatic pleasure from the experience … A delightfully demure, teasingly tuneful release, which has brought me much pleasure'

(International Record Review)


'with such strong, sympathetic playing and clear, carefully-balanced recordings this Hyperion disc is a must for adventurous cellists and listeners alike' (BBC Music Magazine)


'...the works, intimate in tone and refined in sentiment, make extremely congenial discmates'

(Fanfare, USA)


'La sonorité trés chaude du violoncelle et l'articulation parfaite du piano conviennent parfaitement au caractčre de ces śuvres...Il sera difficile de faire mieux dans ce répertoire'

(Classica-Répertoire, France)


'Je ne peux ... priver ce CD merveilleux du 10/10 qui lui sied si bien, car cette musique qui n'ambitionne pas d'égaler les Sonates de Beethoven et de Brahms, est une pure merveille'




Kodály's Solo Cello Sonata


Gramophone Editor's ChoiceJanuary 2004


A cellist inside the idiom and on top of the challenges of this passionate music


Kodály's Solo Cello Sonata is among the strongest, most searching of all his works, arguably the finest of all works for unaccompanied cello since Bach's suites, and here it receives a performance of exceptional power, precision and clarity from Jirí Bárta. His command in tackling the most formidable of technical problems means that, more than most rivals, he is able to keep a steady tempo and to clarify textures with clean attack on double stopping, all seemingly without strain. Yet the intensity of his performance never flags, with a rare depth of concentration in the dark central Adagio. In the folk-dance rhythms of the Allegro finale he is volatile and thrusting, again using a formidable dynamic range which is well caught by the recording. On Naxos Maria Kliegel's approach is more passionate, freer in rhythm and tempo, yet the emotions behind the music are no less evident in Bárta's performance. The same goes for the accompanied Cello Sonata: the opening solo finds Bárta deeply reflective, where Kliegel, just as concentrated, is more passionately expressive. Bárta is well-matched by his pianist, Jan Cech: between them they make light of the problems presented by the many tempo changes in both movements, an opening Fantasia and a weighty finale, by giving an improvisatory feel. The folk element is heightened by an element of rawness, with the players striking sparks off each other. They play with wider dynamic and tonal range than Kliegel and Jenó´ Jandó´. The Supraphon disc has a substantial supplement in one of Vitezslav Novák's late works, a Cello Sonata. It was written in 1941 during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, and, Novák explained, represented an eruption of hatred against the invaders and their tyranny. Though it may not quite match the two Kodály works in emotional power, the passionate character of this closely argued single movement - bringing together elements of a multi-movement sonata structure - is most impressive, particularly in a performance as commanding as this.





In sum, this is a collection of wonderful music, wonderfully made-something no fan of Dvorák, or the cello, should be without.

Victor Carr Jr, Classic Today 2002


 ..Ausnahmeerscheinung…musizieren auf allehoechstem Niveau….Preisverdachtig!

( CD Reflections „Klassik Heute recommandation of the month“)

Markus Zahnhausen, Klassik Heute, May 2000


When grieving Dvorak penned the Adagio of his cello concerto in memory of the woman he loved he had no inkling that 102 years one fellow countryman would awaken the feelings consigned to history. The concerto is a treat in usual circumstances, but played by the brooding Jiri Barta it takes on a new life. ..Barta attakcs score with raw energy, a magnetic centre of attention from the moment he starts to play.....(Barta)left audience holding their breath.

Karen Joyner, Evening Post, Leeds, November 10,1997


„I’d happily invest in Jiri Barta’s explosive and magnetic account of the First Cello Concerto (Shostakovich). There’s frisson and urgency about his performance that’s relentlessly compelling.

Michael Jameson, BBC Music Magazine, November 1997


„What made this night especialy memorable was profoundly disturbing performance of the Dvorak Concerto by exciting young cellist Jiri Barta. His was reading of almost frighteningly withdrawn intensity - nothing extrovert, emotion imprisoned within the anguish of memory.“

Chrsitopher Morley, Birmingham Post, November 1997


„Technicaly unfazeable, musicaly charismatic and blessed with a poet’s sensibilities, Barta seemed to rediscover many of the joys in this familiar work.“ (Dvorak Concerto)

Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times, April 1993




Soloist Jiri Barta gave deeply expressive performance. His concerto was bright, vivid and sensuous.

Hiro Toyo, Ongaku-no-tomo, Tokyo, March 2001, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Dvorak Celloconcerto with Jiri Belohlavek+PSO


(Dvorak) Jiri Barta tiene un instrumento d estirpe que suena aterciopelado y vibrante noc el sello de los mejores Gaglianos. Con ese cello este joven discipulo del gran Andre Navarra hace musica poetica y transforma los pasajes de bravura en u juego liviano con mas encanto que efectismo.

Washington Roldan, El Pais, September 24 2000,Montevideo


..Fue la de solista y orquesta una version antologica para la mejor historia de la musica en Montevideo.

Barrett Puig, Busqeda, September 15, 2000, Montevideo


..Ausnahmeerscheinung…musizieren auf allehoechstem Niveau….Preisverdachtig!

( CD Reflections „Klassik Heute recommandation of the month“)

Markus Zahnhausen, Klassik Heute, May 2000


It is a thing unique to be involved in this contrapuntal embroidery of Bach woven by a great player..

David Blake, Al Ahram, Cairo, February 2000


So hat man diese Musik nie gehoert, Barta traute sich in Mauersberg an die ausersten Grenzen der Dynamik, die man Bach zumuten durfte, auch seine Tempi wagen sich aus den Gewohnheiten heraus, er geht sehr ungezwungen mit ihnen um. Er kann seinem Gestaltungswillen frei Bahn lassen, denn sein technisch derart unbeschwert und locker, dass er ueber einen wunderbar differenzierten Ton verfuegt, der vom zartesten Hauch bis zur beinah berstenden Ballung wohlklingend bleibt.

Reinhold Lindner, Freie Presse, June 22, 1999


Barta, magico violoncello

..Jiri Barta: un inteprete le cui doti tecniche, sicurezza, pulizia, agilita del tocco, sono esaltate da una profonda quanto personalissima lettura del testo bachiano. Il rigore e l'intelligenza musicale si accompagnano alla passione, alla sensibilita e ad una naturale eleganza anche gestuale che non possono che esplicitare in una sorta di sinestesia di suono e immagine, il fascino ammaliante e quasi ineffabile del "gran teatro" barocco. Corriere dell' Adda, 9.10.1997


Il genio di Bach esaltato da Barta

Evento non facilmente ripetibile per valenza musicale e culturale, l"integrale per violoncello solo di Bach in due concerti aVilla Olmo per l'Autunno musicale. La concezione che questo solista ha dello stile bachiano non e pedissequamente legata a certi sofismi filologoco che spesso costituscono un falso problema per nascondere carenze di capacita espressiva: nelle sue interpretazioni circola il respiro palpitante e sereno di una scansione palladiana sorvegliata pur nella liberta di attegiamenti. La mano destra e veloce e precisa, il sua arco e capace di raffinatezze dinamiche, malgrado l'impugnatura barocca non lo agevoli in certe conclusioni, sospese come un sospiro. Lo stile e quello dei" grandi" tanto nel rigore fantasioso del Preludi e Allemande, quanto nella levita delle Correnti, nella pensosita delle Sarabande, nella civetteria danzatrice di Minuetti e Bourree,nella vaghezza leggera delle Gighe.

Maria Terraneo Fonticoli, Como Press, 5.10.1997


 Er arbeitet taenzerisch, formt mit treffender Phrasierung barocke Floskeln ohne sich in sie zu verbeissen..Das Es dur Praeludium wird bei ihm nicht zum Farbwunder dafuer legt er-bei flinkem Tempo-sorgsam der Gang der Basslinie frei..Barta spielt ziemlich luftig, ist bei extrem schnellen Tempi wie in der d-moll-Courante von geisterhaftem Reiz...

Volker Hagedorf, FONO-FORUM, July 1997


When grieving Dvorak penned the Adagio of his cello concerto in memory of the woman he loved he had no inkling that 102 years one fellow countryman would awaken the feelings consigned to history. The concerto is a treat in usual circumstances, but played by the brooding Jiri Barta it takes on a new life. ..Barta attakcs score with raw energy, a magnetic centre of attention from the moment he starts to play.....(Barta)left audience holding their breath.

Karen Joyner, Evening Post, Leeds, November 10,1997


(Bach, CD recording) ..Barta, 40 years younger than Starker, is much less deferential. Most is faster and dance movements preserve a strong link with their heritage, flexible while retaining their characteristic pulse. Barta has formidable technique, eqal to every challenge...

George Pratt, BBC Music Magazine, August 1997


There is nothing motoric about Mr. Barta's Bach. He plays with great expressiveness and warmth. All of the suite's movements were shaped with extraordinary sensitivity. The Courante was marvel of delicate melodic cofigurations. The infectious spirit of both of the Gavottes was also notable

Sterling Adams, Savannah News-Press, March 14, 1993


Barta l'enchanteur..seul, face au public..Jiri Barta a deverse sur ses spectacteurs de plus en plus subjugues une cascade etonnante de phrases musicales. Pizzicati meles au jeu de l"archet, les longs doigts de l'artists couraient sans relache sur les cordes donnant une veritable vie a son instrument.

Brenard Hamann, Journal d'Alsace, May 16, 1993



Harmonie 11/1999


Po rozhovoru s Jiřím Bártou (HARMONIE 7/99) jsem byl velmi zvědavý na jeho nejnovější nahrávací počin. Jaké že to jsou jeho imprese, sny a reflexe...? Podle dramaturgie bych řekl svéhlavý a originální. Deska je vlastně různobarevnou meditací. Přestože je zde vizionářský Messiaen a modlitbou k Panně Marii ovlivněný Kopelent, neni to meditace náboženská, nýbrž obecně lidsky duchovní. Zvnějšku jakoby byly v konfrontaci Dvořákův klid, Rachmaninovova Vokalíza, Saint-Saensova Labuť proti Webernovi, Kopelentovi ad. Já to vnímám spíše jako doplňující se kontrapunkt nálad.


Nahrávku rámují dvě části z Messiaenova geniálního Kvartetu pro konec času (č. 5 a 8). Messiaen je ovšem pouze jedním z vrcholů projektu. Bárta zdánlivě marnotratně nabízí dalši perly: Fratres pro čtyři violoncella od Arvo Párta, vlastní úpravu pro pět cell Letní noci z Dona Quijota od Richarda Strausse, Webernovy zhuštěné Tři drobné skladby op. 11. Naprosto výjimečné je provedení světové premiéry skvělého Canta rogans pro sólové violoncello Marka Kopelenta (1932), což je skladatelem upravená část z prostorového oratoria Lux mirandae Sanctitatis. Další světovou premiérou je sólová dvojdílná Sonáta č. 2 od Pavla Zemka - Nováka (1957). První věta je jakoby nekončící expresivním zpěvem, druhá působivým tektonickým obloukem. Dopis básnířce Rimmě Dalos od Sofie Gubajduliny je také dvojdílný. Prvni část je určena sólovému sopránu, druhá sólovému cellu. Sopranistka Marie Hřebíčková splnila vokální požadavky skladatelky beze zbytku.


Slyšel jsem už hodně recitálů s "maličkostmi" - Maiského, Isserlise, Demeterové, Suka, Lloyd-Webbera a rady dalších, a tak mohu s klidným svědomím napsat, že Bártovy Reflexe jsou jedním z nejzajímavějších cellových projektů, které znám.

Líbí se mi Bártovo stranění soudobé hudbě, jeho tvrdohlavost s jakou svoje neobvyklé nápady prosazuje. V tom mi připomíná kolegu Yo-Yo Mu. Luboš Stehlík











RUBINSTEIN Cello Sonatas

Kodály's Solo Cello Sonata

Moscheles- Hummel Cellosonatas




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