Janáček’s “In the Mists”: Four Coloristic Pieces for Solo Piano

In the Mists is a cycle of four solo piano pieces, written in 1912 by the Czech composer, Leoš Janáček (1854-1928). The pieces are intimate, fleeting, and tinged with melancholy. Vivid impressionistic colors blend with elements of Moravian folk music. They reveal psychological “mists,” perhaps of a composer who suffered the tragic death of his daughter. Harmonically, they inhabit distant, “misty” keys with five and six flats. Fluidly changing meters suggest music which is dreamlike and ephemeral.

In the opening Andante, a searching five-note melody floats over a hazy ostinato. Cascading lines evoke the reverberant sounds of the cimbalom, an instrument used in Eastern European folk music. The Molto adagio is somber and mysterious. It features a dialogue between two distinct personalities. One is lilting and serene while the other is frenetic. The Andantino is filled with childlike innocence. Its tender melody drifts off, and the piece ends where it began. The concluding Presto returns to the world of Moravian folk music. We hear the cimbalom’s bright, metallic splashes of sound, and the rhapsodic lines of a Gypsy fiddler.

This performance is part of a 2021 album featuring pianist Lars Vogt, who passed away in September at the age of 51.

I. Andante:

II. Molto adagio:

III. Andantino:

IV. Presto:

Recordings

  • Janáček: In the Mists, JW VIII/22, Lars Vogt Amazon

Featured Image: “Charing Cross Bridge: Fog on the Thames” (1903), Claude Monet

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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