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Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers, Pt. 8 (1 CD)

Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers, Pt. 8 (1 CD)

Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers, Pt. 8 (1 CD)

  • Disc number in the directory: MEL CD 1002291
  • Release: 2014
History of piano music in Russia goes back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. For less than a hundred years it worked its way up from imitative and naïve dilettantish opuses to compositions which were not inferior to the peaks of West European musical art. By the 20th century traditions of Russian piano (both composing and performing) school were already in place, and they have been giving a powerful impetus to the subsequent development of world pianism until now. The Irish composer and pianist John Field, who lived in Russia for more than thirty years, was one of the most notable figure of domestic piano music of the Pushkin period. Field's performing style which was virtuosic and light at the same time (“pearly” as Mikhail Glinka defined it), and poetic spirituality of his play were reflected in his piano nocturnes and concertos which were famous for their melodiousness. The prominent composers and performers of Russia of the first half of the 19th century directly or indirectly belonged to Field's school. MIKHAIL GLINKA (1804–1857) When a pupil of Noble Boarding School in St. Petersburg, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, the founder of Russian operatic and symphony music, took just a few lessons from Field continuing his study with Charles Meyer, who studied with Field. However, Glinka kept the impression of Field's play all his life remaining a faithful successor of his ideals – soft and melodious phonation, finished and clear performance of musical text (this is perhaps why the new, romantic manner of Liszt's and his followers' play remained alien to him). Glinka's variations on the theme of Alexander Alyabyev's very popular song The Nightingale were written in 1837, a year after a triumphant premiere of the opera A Life for the Tsar. Rejecting a superficially virtuosic vocal varying of Alyabyev's theme, the composer chose a path of dramatic development. His four variations sequentially uncover a tragic image of Anton Delvig's poem about ruined maidenly love. Souvenir d'une Mazurka, one of Glinka's last piano pieces, opens a small cycle titled A Greeting to My Native Land (the composer called it “Musical Essays” in the circle of friends) which was written in 1847 soon after he returned from Spain. The composer initially wanted to dedicate the work to Frédéric Chopin. Somewhat resembling the Polish master's big “poetic” mazurkas, the piece is notable for the originality of its concept – various dance images merge into the same stream of remote memories coated with a mist of sadness. The composition is premised with a poetic epigraph from Metastasio: “No illusions – goodbye life!” VLADIMIR REBIKOV (1866–1920) Vladimir Ivanovich Rebikov had a difficult and contradictory career. The composer's music caused heated discussions when he was alive, and then it was forgotten for many decades. In his works, Rebikov combined old and new, bold search in the area of musical expressiveness with well-established, “habitual” formulas of the romantic style in an unusual, at times paradoxical, fashion. The examining board of the Moscow Conservatory turned Rebikov down after they got acquainted with his “modernistic dissonant pieces.” However, the young composer's first published romances met Tchaikovsky's approval. The Waltz for piano belongs to Rebikov's early period of the 1890's which passed under the sign of piano music in the vein of early romantic lyricism. His opera The Christmas Tree (1900) based on Hans Christian Andersen's short story The Little Match Girl became the composer's best known work which signified a stylistic turn towards impressionism and symbolism. ANATOLY LYADOV (1855–1914) Anatoly Konstantinovich Lyadov was also educated at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under Rimsky-Korsakov with the other members of The Five (Balakirev, Mussorgsky) taking an active part in his musical career. Concentrating on symphony and piano music, Lyadov chose the form of miniature once and for all. Not being a concert pianist, he played only in a circle of friends, but those who heard him play noted an extraordinary beauty of his performance, an intricate play of light and shade, a filigree rendition of each detail and fine pedalization. “At times it seemed that his sensitive fingers did not lie but float over the keyboard,” remembered Boris Asafiev. The peculiarities of Lyadov's pianism were directly reflected in his piano pieces which require as much delicate, elaborate interpretation. The elegance and rhythmic freedom of Chopin's miniatures (Lyadov's favourite composer) are enriched in them with peculiar harmonic fragility; a light and rarefied pattern creates a sense of rippling, a flight anticipating the supreme refinement of Scriabin's lyrical works. ANTON ARENSKY (1861–1906) Anton Stepanovich Arensky was a Big Gold Medal graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied under Rimsky-Korsakov. After he moved to Moscow, he was invited to teach composing, counterpoint and instrumentation. Without taking lessons of special piano, Arensky was a successful performing pianist. When a conservatory student, he composed a piano concerto, and his suite Silhouettes for piano four hands found an enthusiastic response from Leo Tolstoy. Anton Rubinstein's play made a lasting impression on the young musician. Tchaikovsky's music had the most profound influence on Arensky's works. Arensky's talent was particularly apparent in the genres of vocal and piano miniature. The Pieces, Op. 36, written in all major and minor keys are an unusual example of links between different traditions coming from Chopin's 24 Preludes and romantic programme (each of the pieces has a title). Lyrical artlessness and melodiousness of Arensky's pianistic style combined with diverse texture techniques found their continuation in the first opuses of one of his pupils Sergei Rachmaninoff. PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893) When 22-year-old Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was entering the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Rubinstein who discerned a gift of a genius in him, offered him his class of special piano. The future composer rejected a tempting career of concert pianist being strongly confident in his true vocation. However, his piano works encompassing a broad range of genres, from simple “home” pieces to large-scale forms, demonstrates his proficiency in a full spectrum of technical, timbre and emotionally expressive capabilities of the piano of the Liszt period. The first two of the featured compositions were conceived by Tchaikovsky when he studied at the conservatory and then published in 1867 with a dedication to “Moscow” Rubinstein (Nikolai Grigorievich, Anton's brother, a founder and director of the Moscow Conservatory who was a friend and first performer of many of Tchaikovsky's works). The Russian Scherzo marked with vivid national colouring was reworked from an immature string quartet whereas Impromptu is realized in a vigorously romantic, Wertherian vein of Schumann and young Brahms. Sad Song (1878) belong to the prime of Tchaikovsky's Moscow period. An unpretentious lyrical miniature that follows the traditions of a “song with no words,” was one of the composer's most popular pieces when he was alive. ANTON RUBINSTEIN (1829–1894) Anton Grigorievich Rubinstein is among the most prominent representatives of Russia's musical art of the second half of the 19th century. It is difficult to overestimate his contribution to Russian culture as a tireless enlightener and musician, a founder of the Russian Musical Society in 1859 and the first Russian conservatory in St. Petersburg in 1862, an outstanding pianist and educator, an author of the grandiose performing cycle “Historical Recitals,” a composer and conductor. Alexander Villoing, one of John Field's pupils, was Rubinstein's first and essentially only piano teacher who imparted an aspiration to “a rounded, sonorous, strong and ennobled sound” to his young pupil. The formation of Rubinstein's performing style was later greatly influenced by Franz Liszt who he met in the 1840's abroad. The Russian Dance and Trepak is a piece of a virtuosic concert nature which opens the cycle National Dances (1868) which reflects Rubinstein's interest in a national folkloric element in music. The two-movement structure of the piece reminds a popular vocal genre of Russian song which consists of a melodious slow tune and a more upbeat dance one. SEGEI TANEYEV (1856–1915) At the age of ten, Segei Ivanovich Taneyev became a pupil of Nikolai Rubinstein at the junior department of the Moscow Conservatory. Later he began his studies in Tchaikovsky's composition class and was the first student who graduated the conservatory with a Big Gold Medal. Taneyev's bright and original pianistic gift was revealed as early as in the period of his studies. Rubinstein ranked his pupil “among a very few chosen ones” – “he will make a brilliant pianist and wonderful composer,” he wrote. Later on Taneyev would prefer ensemble playing to solo performances; ensembles involving the piano predominate in his camber works. The Prelude and Fugue in G-sharp minor finished in 1910 remained the composer's only piece for piano solo. A large-scale cycle both sections of which are fused through complex motif and thematic links demonstrates the whole depth of Taneyev's outstanding polyphonic skills combined with a pompous, “concerto” piano style. The tension of dramatic development and the pungency of the climaxes allow us to speak about genuine symphonism of the prelude and fugue. This composition ranks among the works by Medtner, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff being one of the culmination points of Russian piano music of the pre-revolution period. Vyacheslav Gryaznov (born 1982) studied at the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatory with Manana Kandelaki. In 2006, he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory with honours where he studied under professor Yuri Slesarev, and in 2009 he completed his postgraduate course there. Gryaznov began to teach at the Moscow Conservatory as assistant to professor Slesarev in 2008. In the season of 2008/2009, Gryaznov became a soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic Society. He has received prizes and scholarships of the charity foundations of Vladimir Spivakov, Yuri Bashmet, Mstislav Rostropovich (the Neuhaus scholarship) and Yamaha Scholarship. He has been a participant of many international festivals such as Dialogue of Cultures n Vilnius, Art Masters in Switzerland, Russian Music on the Baltic in Kaliningrad and Vilnius, Musical Kremlin in Moscow and Bryansk and others. Gryaznov is an owner of a prize of the first Russian president and numerous awards of prestigious international competitions in Moscow, Italy, Ukraine, Denmark, Georgia and Japan, including six first prizes and a Grand Prix. The pianist has performed in Italy, Denmark, the UK, Croatia, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Georgia, Armenia, Poland, the Baltic states, Africa, many cities of Japan and across Russia. His video recordings made by NHK are shown on Japanese TV on a regular basis. In Russia, the pianist's recordings are often played on Orpheus radio. The musician's repertoire is extensive and diverse – from Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas to compositions by contemporary authors – and growing to include masterpieces of operatic, symphonic and chamber music thanks to the transcriptions made by the pianist. The Deka-VS publishers has issued three collections of Gryaznov's concert arrangements and transcriptions for piano, including Mikhail Glinka's Waltz Fantasy, Sergei Rachmaninoff's Italian Polka, Second Suite for two pianos from Maurice's Ravel's ballet Daphnis and Chloe, Habanera for piano four hands from George Bizet's opera Carmen, Claude Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun, three Rachmaninoff's romances – The Night Is Mournful, Vocalise and It's Peaceful Here (the Masterpieces of Piano Transcription series). Alexei Chernov was born in 1982 to a family of musicians. At six, he was admitted to the school of the Academic Music College of the Moscow Conservatory where he studied under N. Rogal-Levitskaya. Since the fourth grade he continued his education at the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatory under Kira Shashkina. In 2000, he finished the CMS where he specialized in piano with professor Natalia Trull and composition with professor Leonid Bobylyov. In 2005, he graduated the piano department of the Moscow Conservatory with honours, and in 2008, he completed a postgraduate course. In 2008 to 2010, Alexei was a postgraduate student of the Royal College of Music in London under professor Vanessa Latarche; there he received his Artist Diploma in Performance, the highest credential for performing musicians. Alexei Chernov is a prize-winner of more than twenty international competitions, at ten of which he received first prizes. In Moscow, he won prizes of the 4th International Scriabin Competition in 2008 and the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011. Chernov's repertoire is extensive with piano concertos taking a significant part of it. He has regularly toured in Russia and abroad, and participated in a number of festivals. He has collaborated with conductors Mikhail Pletnyov, Ravil Martynov, Alexander Sladkovsky, Nikolai Znaider, Valery Rayevsky, Alexander Anisimov, Terje Mikkelsen, Gintaras Rinkevičius, Vladimir Sirenko, Dmitri Yablonsky, Enrique Bátiz, Sergei Smbatian and others. Alexei Chernov has recorded a number of albums, including one with Scriabin's music from the series Constellation of Classics released on Megaliner Records. A few new albums will released soon. In 2002, Chernov received a diploma and a special prize at the Scriabin Composing Competition. Mikhail Turpanov was born in 1989 in Krasnoyarsk. In 2003 to 2007, he studied piano at the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatory under Nina Makarova. In 2007, he became a student of the Moscow Conservatory where he attended the special piano class of professor Nikolai Petrov, and since 2011 the special piano class of professor Mikhail Voskresensky. At present, the pianist continues his education as a postgraduate student and probationer at the Moscow Conservatory. Mikhail Turpanov is a winner of awards and special prizes if the Russian and international competitions, including a first prize of the 3rd International Vera Lotar-Shevchenko Piano Competition in 2010, in Novosibirsk and a Grand Prix of the International Contest-Festival of Performers by Video Recordings in 2014, in Krasnoyarsk. The pianist has performed with the symphony orchestras of Yekaterinburg, Voronezh, Yaroslavl, Volgograd, Krasnoyarsk, Orel, Novosobirsk and Barnaul, with the Musica Viva chamber orchestra from Moscow conducted by Alexander Rudin. Mikhail has been a participant of such festivals as Pianoscope in 2013, in Beauvais, France, Copenhagen Summer Festival in 2013, Gradus ad Parnassum supported by Yamaha, Footsteps on the Snow and Russian Evenings. He has also taken part in the series of concerts All Piano Sonatas of Nikolai Medtner (the Moscow Conservatory has released the series on record). Contemporary music takes a significant place in Mikhail's repertoire. The pianist has repeatedly appeared in the project Anthology of Russian Piano Music with his recordings of Alfred Schnittke, Yuri Butsko, Alexander Vustin, Nikolai Karetnikov and other domestic composers. Mikhail Turpanov has actively collaborated with composers Yuri Butsko, Ivan Sokolov and Chaya Czernowin with whom he realized a number of Russian and world premieres. Rustam Khanmurzin was born in 1994, in Ufa. He finished the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatory and is a student of the Moscow Conservatory under Honoured Artist of Russia professor Alexander Mndoyants. He received his primary musical education at Children Music School No. 2 of the city of Surgut under I. Bukanina. When Rustam was a schoolboy, he won a few international competitions such as the 7th International Scriabin Competition in 2007, in Paris, the Silver Tuning Fork in 2007, in St. Petersburg, and the all-Russian competition Young Talents of Russia in 2008. The pianist has enjoyed particular success at the music contests playing Chopin's works. Rustam has won a number of prizes at the competitions dedicated to Chopin – in the cities of Russia, in China (the 7th International Chopin Piano Competition in 2011, in Beijing) and the Republic of Korea (the 2nd Asia-Pacific International F. Chopin Piano Competition in 2012). He also received a prize of the 19th Moscow Festival of Young Soloists for an outstanding performance of Chopin's second piano concerto in 2013. Rustam Khanmurzin is a prize-winner of the New Names festival-contest, and an owner of a prize from the Ministry of Education. He has performed in many cities of Russia, as well as in France, Italy, Germany and Israel. Nikita Mndoyants (born 1989) graduated from the Moscow Conservatory with honours where he studied composition under professor Alexander Tchaikovsky and piano under professors Alexander Mndoyants and Nikolai Petrov. At the age of nine, he played his first recital at the Sibelius Academy Concert Hall in Helsinki. The concert was recorded and released on Vista Vera. The Helsinki recital was followed by performances in cities of Russia and overseas – in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, China, Switzerland, Israel, France, the USA and Ukraine. Nikita has been a winner of several international and national youth competitions as a pianist and composer. He has taken part in many international festivals, performed at the best venues of Moscow and St. Petersburg with some of the leading orchestras of the country, including the State Academic Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra and the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society, and such conductors as Eri Klas, Leonard Slatkin, Vladimir Ziva, Alexander Sladkovsky, Felix Korobov, Alexander Rudin, Misha Rakhlevsky, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Murad Annamamedov, Svetlana Bezrodnaya and Konstantin Orbelian. Nikita Mndoyants is one of the heroes of the documentaries Russlands Wunderkinder (2000) and Competitors (2009) directed by Irene Langemann for German film company Lichtfilm. In 2007, Nikita released two albums on Classical Records. One of them featured a number of his own compositions. In the same year, he won a first prize of the 7th International Paderewski Piano Competition in Poland and received a special prize of the jury for the best semifinal recital. In 2013, he became a finalist of the 14th Van Cliburn International Competition, one of the world's most prestigious contests. In March 2014, Nikita won the 3rd Myaskovsky International Competition of Composers and received a first prize for his Piano Quintet. Mndoyants has been a member of the Union of Composers of the Russian Federation since 2012. His works have been published by some of the largest Russian publishing houses such as Kompozitor, Jurgenson and Muzyka.


  • Total time: 62.47

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