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Grechaninov: Complete Music for Viola and Piano / Artamonova, Walker

Grechaninov
Release Date: 04/29/2014 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 234   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Nicholas WalkerElena Artamonova
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Primarily known for his orchestral music, Grechaninov also wrote a sheaf of chamber works. That for viola has remained obscure. His Op.161 Sonata for viola (or clarinet) is unpublished which accounts for much of its obscurity and this is its first recording. Its premiere was given by Elena Artamonova and Nicholas Walker in London only in 2013, the same year it was recorded. The premiere was given in December but the recording was made earlier in June. Couched in sonata-form, and written between 1935 and 1940 the work proves amiable, songful and engaging. There is a high quotient of charm in Grechaninov’s chamber music, and that is an element that figures prominently here. His penchant for vocal composition ensures that the melodies are at Read more all times winningly warm, not least in the lyric effusions of the central Canzona movement. I hear hints of Spanish music in the finale though there is certainly a strain of Russian folklore buzzing merrily throughout, and some passages sound almost like Dvo?ák.

The Second Sonata was written in 1943 and is actually a clarinet sonata, whose dedicatee was the great Simeon Bellison. The arrangement for viola is the work of Elena Artamonova, who has taken her cue from the earlier viola sonata and has dealt persuasively with questions of articulation and register. The work sounds convincing in its new form. Once more there’s a fine balance between the instruments, and an uncluttered and jovial quality. Toccata has gone to the trouble of separately tracking each of the variations that mark the theme and variations, with coda, of the second movement of this bipartite work. Here Slavic folk affiliations are to the fore, and a vigorous and engaging variation for solo piano too. I was most taken by the third variation where the piano’s gruff enquiries are met by a pliant viola response. There’s a viola cadenza before the spirited and exciting toccata-like coda.

Early Morning is a cycle of ten pieces written in France in 1930 for cello (or violin) and piano. It has been arranged for viola by Sabine Stegmüller and this is its first recording in this guise. Primarily this is a work of instruction for children, adept and engaging teaching material with nice descriptive titles à la Schumann, two highlights of which are the pensive In the Twilight and the deliciously deft Burlesque. In modo antico is a suite written back in 1918 for violin and orchestra or piano. This arrangement is Artamonova’s. It opens with a somewhat showy cadenza but continues in a romantic vein rather more than anything too self-consciously modo antico, though the movements sport titles such as Sarabande, Gavotte – played with deliciously zesty lift here – and Jig. Finally there are the two Grechaninov transcriptions of songs by Debussy, first published in 1946, which would make excellent recital pieces. Once again these are premiere recordings.

These richly lyrical works, all pretty much unknown, receive highly persuasive and stylistically apt performances from Artamonova – who writes the excellent booklet notes – and Nicholas Walker. Well worth getting to know, in fact.

– MusicWeb International (Jonathan Woolf) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for viola & piano No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 161 by Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Nicholas Walker (Piano), Elena Artamonova (Viola)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1940 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 16 Minutes 13 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for viola & piano No. 2 in F major, Op. 172 by Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Nicholas Walker (Piano), Elena Artamonova (Viola)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1943 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 12 Minutes 15 Secs. 
3.
Romance, for viola & piano by Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Nicholas Walker (Piano), Elena Artamonova (Viola)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
4.
Beau Soir, for viola & piano by Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Nicholas Walker (Piano), Elena Artamonova (Viola)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
Early Morning by Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Nicholas Walker (Piano), Elena Artamonova (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 13 Minutes 21 Secs. 
6.
In modo antico, suite for viola & piano, Op. 81 by Alexander Grechaninov
Performer:  Elena Artamonova (Viola), Nicholas Walker (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1918 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk 
Length: 15 Minutes 36 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Clarinet Sonata, Op. 161 (version for viola): I. Allegro
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 161 (version for viola): II. Canzona: Andante
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 161 (version for viola): III. Finale: Vivace
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): I. Moderato
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): II. Theme: Andantino
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Variation 1: Tempo I
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Variation 2: Allegro
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Variation 3: Andante
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Variation 4: Molto vivace
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Variation 5: Andante
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Variation 6: Allegro grazioso
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 172 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): Coda: Largo - Vivace
2 Romances (arr. A. Gretchaninov for viola and piano): 2 Romances: No. 1. L'ame evaporee (arr. A. Gretchaninov for viola and piano)
Beau soir (arr. A. Gretchaninov for viola and piano)
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 1. Morning Stroll: Moderato
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 2. Homesickness: Andantino
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 3. The Joker: Allegretto grazioso
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 4. In the Twilight: Andante
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 5. Little Horseman: Allegro
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 6. On Winter's Eve: Andante
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 7. Burlesque: Moderato - Allegro non troppo
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 8. In a Fortress: Moderato
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 9. Thieves and Policeman: Sempre ben marcato
Rannim utrom (Early Morning), Op. 126b (arr. S. Stegmuller for viola and piano): No. 10. Waltz: Moderato, molto grazioso
V starinnom stile, "In modo antico", Op. 81 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): I. Prelude: Con liberta - Andante
V starinnom stile, "In modo antico", Op. 81 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): II. Sarabande: Allegro moderato
V starinnom stile, "In modo antico", Op. 81 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): III. Gavotte: Allegro, sempre marcato
V starinnom stile, "In modo antico", Op. 81 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): IV. Aria: Lento, ma non troppo
V starinnom stile, "In modo antico", Op. 81 (arr. E. Artamonova for viola and piano): V. Jig: Vivace

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