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Goldenweiser: Piano Music Vol 1 / Jonathan Powell


Release Date: 05/08/2007 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 44   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alexander Goldenweiser
Performer:  Jonathan Powell
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



GOLDENWEISER Contrapuntal Sketches, op. 12. Sonata-Fantasia, op. 37. Skazka, op. 39 Jonathan Powell (pn) TOCCATA 44 (78:24)


When a Westerner thinks of Alexander Goldenweiser, it is usually as one of the revered figures of the Russian piano tradition. Born three years after the Franco-Prussian War, Goldenweiser lived to see the Berlin Wall put up. He studied Read more piano with Pabst and Siloti and composition with Arensky, Tanayev, and Ippolitov-Ivanov. Twice director of the Moscow Conservatory, Goldenweiser enjoyed tremendous prestige as a teacher, mentoring such talents as Feinberg, Nikolayeva, Bashkirov, Ginzburg, Kabalevsky, Paperno, and Berman. Goldenweiser’s own refined piano-playing may be heard in Tchaikovsky and Grieg miniatures (APR 5661) and in the Scriabin concerto with Nicholai Golovanov (Boheme 908087). Unfortunately a larger, more representative collection in the BMG/Melodiya “Russian Piano School” compendium (74321251732) is no longer in print. It included the Second Rachmaninoff Suite for Two Pianos (dedicated to Goldenweiser) with Ginzburg, along with pieces by Tchaikovsky, Arensky, Borodin, Medtner, and one of Goldenweiser’s own pieces.


Now, a remarkable new Toccata disc offers an opportunity to hear something more substantial from Goldenweiser the composer. Jonathan Powell, a sensitive and enormously gifted British pianist, selected a varied program of works dating roughly from the early 1930s to the late 1950s. I confess to my share of skepticism when it comes to late-date discoveries of neglected composers. However, on the basis of the works recorded here, Goldenweiser seems to have had a highly developed creative identity, a great deal to say, and the technical wherewithal to say it extraordinarily well. Unmistakably Russian and occasionally reminiscent of Scriabin, these pieces nevertheless exhibit great variety of artistic expression and speak with a voice like no one else’s. Powell, an expert on fin-de-siècle and early-20th-century Russian piano music, suggests in his absorbing liner notes that Goldenweiser’s neglect may stem from anomalies in his creative career. First, he was extraordinarily modest and seldom spoke of his creative activity, even to his closest students. He began composing early and was all of 12 when his first piece was published. But around 1912 he abruptly broke off composing, only to resume after a 20-year hiatus. Though he continued to write until a few weeks before his death in 1961, most of his “second period” music wasn’t published until shortly before and immediately after his death.


Skazka (“tale” or “fairy tale”) is a gem of varied color and texture, lasting a little over seven minutes. It is reminiscent of the character genre favored by Medtner, though Goldenweiser’s Skazka is bracingly a 20th-century creation, without the nostalgia so often characteristic of Medtner and Rachmaninoff (both of whom, incidentally, were Goldenweiser’s classmates at conservatory.) The Sonata-Fantasia unfolds in a single anguished movement of formidable difficulty. Subtitled “Song of Sorrow,” it was written in the late 1950s as a memorial to Goldenweiser’s composer-pianist friend, Alexander Goedicke. Powell is more than equal to its virtuosic demands in a performance that is both heart-felt and compelling. To me the most interesting of the compositions recorded here is the huge cycle, Contrapuntal Sketches . Sketch is too modest a descriptor. The set consists of 24 fully developed, exquisitely crafted pieces in each of the major and minor keys. Unlike either the paired pieces of The Well-Tempered Clavier or Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues (which the Goldenweiser set pre-dates by 20 years), this cycle consists of one piece per key, in a repeating pattern of prelude, fugue, and canon. Goldenweiser’s imagination seems to catch fire within the confines of these polyphonic miniatures. In Powell’s sympathetic performance they emerge as a kaleidoscope of moods and affects, as concise in their imagery as they are lavishly idiomatic for the piano. Warmly recommended.


FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
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Works on This Recording

1.
Skazka, Op. 39 by Alexander Goldenweiser
Performer:  Jonathan Powell (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
2.
Sonata fantaziya, Op. 37 by Alexander Goldenweiser
Performer:  Jonathan Powell (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
3.
Contrapuntal Sketches (12), Book 1, Op. 12 by Alexander Goldenweiser
Performer:  Jonathan Powell (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
4.
Contrapuntal Sketches (12), Book 2, Op. 12 by Alexander Goldenweiser
Performer:  Jonathan Powell (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 

Sound Samples

Skazka (Folk Tale), Op. 39
Sonata-fantaziya, Op. 37
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 1. Prelude in C major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 2. Fugue in C minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 3. Canon in D flat major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 4. Prelude in C sharp minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 5. Fugue in D major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 6. Canon in D minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 7. Prelude in E flat major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 8. Fugue in E flat minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 9. Canon in E major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 10. Prelude in E minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 11. Fugue in F major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book I: No. 12. Canon in F minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 13. Prelude in F sharp major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 14. Fugue in F sharp minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 15. Canon in G major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 16. Prelude in G minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 17. Fugue in A flat major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 18. Canon in G sharp minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 19. Prelude in A major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 20. Fugue in A minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 21. Canon in B flat major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 22. Prelude in B flat minor
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 23. Fugue in B major
Kontrapunkticheskiye eskizi (Contrapuntal Sketches), Op. 12: Book II: No. 24. Canon in B minor

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