Smetanas large piano output ranges from dance and salon pieces to virtuoso works. From the many Czech Dances and Polkas, the best known are the Salon Polkas, Poetic Polkas and Memories of Bohemia in the Form of Polka, and the Czech Dances. Among the solon and romantic pieces, we mention the cycles of poetic miniatures Bagatelles and Impromptus, Listky do pamatniku (Diary Leaves), Svatebni sceny (Wedding Scenes), Six Characteristic pieces and Crty (Skizzen), and the late cycle Dreams.
The virtuoso works mostly date from a time Smetana was strongly influenced by Liszt. The most popular (and most playable) is On the Seashore, with subtitle Recollection (in the original autograph Recollection of Sweden), a superb virtuoso piece with an impressionic atmosphere. The sketch Macbeth and The Witches is a work of extraordinary power, virtuosity and harmonic invention. Its sometimes near-atonal passages and the use of the full keyboard produce a strikingly modern idiom, foreshadowing the way later composers like Messiaen and Ligeti would treat the piano. The last important work to be mentioned is the Fantasy on Czech Folk Songs, a polished and virtuosic piece making excellent use of the possibilities of the instrument.
|On the Seashore, Concert Study op.17||6:01||Pohl, R.|
Sketches, Op. 4