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Fantasies / Stanislav Khristenko

Schumann / Bruckner / Zemlinksy
Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Steinway & Sons   Catalog #: 30032  
Composer:  Robert SchumannAnton BrucknerAlexander von ZemlinskyJohannes Brahms
Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A highly impressive debut CD.

Ukrainian pianist Stanislav Khristenko broke through to American audiences as the winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, and it is heartening to see him capitalize on that triumph not with a splashy performance of standard concerto repertoire but with this thoughtful recital. Its title can be taken two ways: the four works on the program are a collection of fantasies, but also an exploration of the concept as it developed in the late 19th century. Khristenko is a rather quiet pianist with a strong ability to sustain works that develop in a complex, organic way. He bookends the program with two of these, the Schumann Fantasie in C major, Op. 17, and the extremely intricate
Read more Fantasies, Op. 116, of Brahms. One might ask what the iron motivic logic of these works, which appealed so much to Schoenberg, Webern, and company, has to do with fantasy, but Khristenko gives them a mysterious mood and brings out the unusual melodic shapes that set the development in motion. In between are two rarely played works, each of them delightful. Anton Bruckner's Fantasie in G major, one of very few keyboard pieces he wrote, is an early work that presents the composer's expansive melody in miniature. And Alexander Zemlinsky's Fantasies on Poems by Richard Dehmel, another figure beloved by Schoenberg, are songs without words for the end of the century, dreamy and dense explorations of the mood of the four poems. It might have been nice to have the texts of these, but otherwise the presentation and engineering live up to the high standards that have been set by the Steinway & Sons label. Highly recommended.

– James Manheim, All Music Guide

"This assemblage of keyboard fantasies (rec. 20-22 January 2014) exemplifies Khristenko’s penchant for this form of musical expression, since it allows him great personal freedom in the course of displaying a brilliant technique and refined sensitivity to the Romantic composers he champions. Khristenko opens grandly, with a dynamic performance of Schumann’s 1836 Fantasie in C Major... Khristenko captures the opening movement’s sense of inflamed urgency, a mixture of truncated sonata-form interspersed with recitatativo and declamatory figures... Liquid clarity and muscular transparency have marked each measure of Khristenko’s realization, as much a tribute to engineer Daniel Shores of the pianist’s Steinway Model D as to Khristenko’s sympathetic interpretative gifts. Anton Bruckner hardly bears any reputation as a piano composer, but his 1868 Fantasie in G Major, somewhat reminiscent of the music of Grieg, communicates a tender piety whose scale provides a charming relief to those more ambitious expressions in symphonic form. The four Fantasies on Poems by Richard Dehmel (1898) of Alexander Zemlinsky expressively capture a salon poignancy in post-Romantic terms that combine elements of Brahms, Grieg, and exploratory Richard Strauss... Khristenko concludes with what have become the fairly ubiquitous Fantasien, Op. 116 of Johannes Brahms (1892). Except for the bolder, more resonant sonics, Khristenko’s opening Capriccio in D Minor reminds of Gieseking’s EMI version, plastic and impassioned at once... The mesmerizingly gentle but urgent E Minor Intermezzo receives from Khristenko a rocking motion that eventually lulls us across its slur lines into an enchanted garden... The final D Minor Capriccio makes a hectic tour de force for Khristenko, a virtual war of disparate elements whose surrounding arpeggios also build upon “rainy”and “stormy” emotions, but more in the tragic mode of Schubert." – Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition

"Schumann’s Fantasie is an emotionally charged piece with deliberate echoes of and quotations from Beethoven (it was intended to help raise funds for a monument to Beethoven in his birthplace, Bonn). It is difficult to sustain for its half-hour length, but Khristenko has taken its measure and manages a fine balance between its technical complexity and its emotional heart. Similarly, Brahms’ late and complex Fantasien, Op. 116, look back to Beethoven in their use of small motivic fragments as building blocks of grander structures – and here, too, Khristenko approaches the work with sensitivity as well as the necessary virtuosity in its three Capriccio segments. The Fantasien are seven miniatures that collectively produce an impact well beyond their individual elements, and Khristenko manages to communicate this through attention focused on the individual pieces’ characteristics while never losing sight of Brahms’ overall structure. This is a particularly impressive performance for a 29-year-old pianist: Schumann’s Fantasie was written when the composer was 26, and many of its sentiments are those of a young and somewhat headstrong man; but the Brahms Fantasien is a work of that composer’s late life, and what Brahms’ communicates here is a level of complexity that also sums up many of his pianistic techniques and emotional concerns. It says much for Khristenko’s skill that he can make both these very different works so effective, each in its own way. And the two other pieces on this CD are fascinating discoveries. Bruckner’s Fantasie is a brief, quiet and lyrical work that shows a little-noticed side of the composer. And Alexander Zemlinsky’s Fantasien über Gedichte von Richard Dehmel is fascinating. This is a set of four movements inspired by works written by the same poet whose Verklärte Nacht led to Schoenberg’s masterful 1899 string sextet. Zemlinsky’s piano work was written a year earlier and in more distinctly Romantic (indeed, Brahmsian) style. The music itself is poetic, limpid and often quiet, and Khristenko performs it with the combination of skill and sensitivity that he displays throughout this highly impressive debut CD." – Infodad.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Phantasie for Piano in C major, Op. 17 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1838; Germany 
2. Fantasie for Piano in G major by Anton Bruckner
Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Austria 
3. Fantasies on poems of Richard Dehmel, Op. 9 by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1909; Austria 
4. Fantasies (7) for Piano, Op. 116 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 

Featured Sound Samples

Fantasie in C major, Op.17 (Schumann): I. Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen
Fantasien (Zemlinsky): III. Liebe
Fantasien, Op. 116 (Brahms): 3. Capriccio in G minor

Sound Samples

Fantasie in C Major, Op. 17: I. Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen
Fantasie in C Major, Op. 17: II. Massig
Fantasie in C Major, Op. 17: III. Langsam getragen
Fantasie in G Major, WAB 118
Fantasien uber Gedichte von Richard Dehmel (Fantasies after poems by Richard Dehmel), Op. 9: No. 1. Stimme des Abends
Fantasien uber Gedichte von Richard Dehmel (Fantasies after poems by Richard Dehmel), Op. 9: No. 2. Waldseligkeit
Fantasien uber Gedichte von Richard Dehmel (Fantasies after poems by Richard Dehmel), Op. 9: No. 3. Liebe
Fantasien uber Gedichte von Richard Dehmel (Fantasies after poems by Richard Dehmel), Op. 9: No. 4. Kaferlied
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 1. Capriccio in D Minor
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 2. Intermezzo in A Minor
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 3. Capriccio in G Minor
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 4. Intermezzo in E Major
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 5. Intermezzo in E Minor
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 6. Intermezzo in E Major
7 Fantasien, Op. 116: No. 7. Capriccio in D Minor

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