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Nikolai Roslavets: Short Works For Violin & Piano

Roslavets / Stuart / Ivanov
Release Date: 03/09/2010 
Label:  Gega New   Catalog #: 340   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ROSLAVETS Morgenstimmung. Reverie. Élégie. 3 Poems. 3 Dances. Poème romantique. Nocturne . Legend. Preludes: No. 4 in e; No. 9 in E; No. 11 in B; No. 12 in g?; No. 17 in A?; No. 20 in c; No. 24 in d Carolyn Stuart (vn); Svetozar Ivanov (pn) GEGA 340 (55:17)



Carolyn Stuart and Svetozar Ivanov have arranged their program of Nikolai Read more Roslavets’s music for violin and piano chronologically, the earliest works, like Morgenstimmung from 1907, having been completed, according to the notes, during his student days and the latest, the selected preludes, coming from 1941–42. The music describes a sort of arc, the early simple and accessible, the middle more complex and composed in accordance with his “New System of Sound Organization” (according to the notes based on a “synthetic chord” of several pitches that he could transpose freely). The later simpler and more direct works, representing, perhaps, the composer’s efforts to regain Soviet favor, bring the arc again closer to earth.


The notes identify the first three pieces, the earnest Morgenstimmung (1907), the Rêverie (1908), and the delicate Élégie (also 1908), as unpublished works that Roslavets wrote during his student days at the Moscow Conservatory. In these performances, billed as world premieres, Stuart and Ivanov explore the shifting, gauzy textures of an intensely expressive salon style, with Stuart deploying the tonal resources of her instrument in stratospheric soaring climaxes and throaty passages on the G string. The textures thicken in the Three Poems, of which these also purport to be world premiere recordings. None of these ( Poème doleureux, Poème lyrique , and, simply, Poème ) last even as long as two minutes, but their concentration suggests a musical message that the composer has refined and tightened.


According to the notes, the Three Dances from 1923 (Waltz, Nocturne, and Mazurka) represent Roslavets at the height of his “complexity”; they also provide examples of the compositional style he had worked out. Here the harmonies sound less focused (though the dissonances hardly seem overwhelming or intimidating) and the melodies leap in a way familiar from the works of some dodecaphonic composers. Still, there’s a great deal of conjunct motion and the rhythms don’t seem to have been commandeered by the harmonies and melodies. The result, as in the Waltz, seems to be an accessible idiom that the performers have absorbed into their musical language (the First Violin Concerto, from 1925, evidences a complexity similar to that of the dances but embedded in moodily rhapsodic textures and underlined with scoring by turns exquisitely sensitive and blazingly brilliant; in Fanfare 32:4, Phillip Scott reviewed a performance by Alina Ibragimova of both of Roslavets’s concertos on Hyperion 7637). The Nocturne, at the same time more transparent and timbrally adventurous in this reading, leads to a mazurka, preserving something of the dance’s rhythmic effect but representing perhaps the aphelion of the tonal orbit.


The allusive Poème romantique of 1929 (another world premiere recording of unpublished music) represents a retreat from the almost uncharted territory of the dances (similar in a way to the Scriabinesque viola sonata of the same general period—perhaps 1925—which Yuri Bashmet played with searing intensity on RCA Red Seal 09026-61273, which John D. Wiser reviewed in 16:4) with a return to a haunting romantic harmonic and melodic language. The deeply affecting unpublished Nocturne (1935), which begins with almost obsessive repetition of a three-note motive (to which it later returns), gives way to an ardent middle section. Stuart and Ivanov capture both its sensuousness and its menace. (The Second Violin Concerto, from about the same time—1936—violinistic to the core and similarly accessible, even seems to allude specifically to works in the instrument’s standard repertoire—Hyperion 67637). Legend (1941), by far the longest individual work on the program, gives rein to the instrument’s capabilities, both tonal and technical (Roslavets himself played the violin). It perhaps represents, with its darker, more concentrated expression and its elusive, though intense, rhapsodic outpouring (compare in manner, if not in matter, Eugène Ysaÿe’s exotic meanderings), a blip in the complexity curve but still in every regard a showcase for Stuart’s and Ivanov’s musical and stylistic mastery. The seven preludes the duo has chosen, ingratiatingly melodious in No. 4, more urgent in No. 9, moody and probing in No. 11 and No. 12 (with its ethereal ending), playful and even a bit coquettish (at least in the beginning and middle section) in No. 17, commanding in No. 20, and reflective in No. 24, traverse a wide expressive range (perhaps the idea behind the set, besides its passages through the keys), to which Stuart and Ivanov prove themselves highly adaptable.


A letter that accompanied the recording’s submission for review (though not the booklet) suggests that the duo preferred a natural recorded sound with no edits. If those who appreciate a tonal portrait capturing its subjects close up miss the tweaking and carefully designed lighting of a more highly processed studio production, this recording nevertheless reveals the performers as they might sound in a somewhat (but not too) reverberant concert setting, tonally resplendent and affectingly assured both stylistically and technically. As an overview of the composer’s lifetime production, this collection might also serve as an auspicious first introduction to the composer, especially for those who might be less favorably inclined toward his more experimental music. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1. Morgenstimmung, for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1907 
Length: 2 Minutes 30 Secs. 
2. Rêverie, for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1908 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3. Élégie, for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1908 
Length: 4 Minutes 49 Secs. 
4. Poems (3), for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1909-1910 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
5. Dances (3), for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Length: 9 Minutes 21 Secs. 
6. Poème romantique, for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1929 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
7. Nocturne for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
8. Legend, for violin & piano by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941 
Length: 8 Minutes 34 Secs. 
9. 24 Preludes: No. 4 in E minor by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
10. 24 Preludes: No. 9 in E major by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 1 Minutes 1 Secs. 
11. 24 Preludes: No. 11 in B major by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
12. 24 Preludes: No. 12 in G sharp minor by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
13. 24 Preludes: No. 17 in A flat major by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
14. 24 Preludes: No. 20 in C minor by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
15. 24 Preludes: No. 24 in D minor by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuart-Ivanov Duo
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941-1942 
Length: 3 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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