John Novacek, piano, Last Kiss: Romantic Piano Music For Love And Passion

Thomas Bartlett

By Thomas Bartlett

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Romantic composers to get romantic to, by a sure-handed American pianist.

If you like to get ur freak on to the sexy sounds of 19th-century piano music, John Novacek is your man: the American pianist, who has graced records like Timeless Kiss, 1001 Ways To Be Romantic and — last but surely not least — Classical Romance II, is ready to put his considerable musical skills at the service of your boot-knocking. The repertoire on this record is, surprise surprise, largely drawn from Romantic composers (leaning heavily on Frederic "Sex Machine" Chopin), with a small skip forward to grab the obligatory Satie and Debussy, and a generous bound backwards for a Bach Sarabande. But while you might be forgiven for expecting performances as mushy and extravagantly overwrought as the record's concept, Novacek actually plays these lite-classical classics with admirable clarity and lucid intelligence — a welcome reprimand to whoever it was who decided that playing "romantically" meant sounding as if the piano's keys were covered in molasses.