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Bortkiewicz: Piano Works / Vlaeva


Release Date: 03/04/2016 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 68118   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva
Number of Discs: 1 
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CD:  $21.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Nadejda Vlaeva is a young piano virtuoso poised to make a lasting mark on the world of classical music. This program of alluring piano works by Sergei Bortkiewicz includes the Piano Sonata No. 2, the Six Preludes and more. Many of these works have only been recently discovered and are recorded here for the first time.

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Review:

Vlaeva plays with commanding authority. She can sing, she can charm, she can thunder, and she has a wonderfully innate rubato that suits Bortkiewicz's idiom to perfection.

– Gramophone
Nadejda Vlaeva is a young piano virtuoso poised to make a lasting mark on the world of classical music. This program of alluring piano works by Sergei Bortkiewicz includes the Piano Sonata No. 2, the Six Preludes and more. Many of these works have only been recently discovered and are recorded here for the first time.

-----

Review:

Vlaeva plays with commanding authority. She can sing, she can charm, she can thunder, and she has a wonderfully innate rubato that suits Bortkiewicz's idiom to perfection.

– Gramophone Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 60 by Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Mazurkas (3) for Piano, Op. 64 by Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945 
3.
Jugoslawische Suite, Op. 58 by Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940 
4.
Fantasiestücke, Op. 61 by Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941 
5.
Lyrica Nova, Op. 59 by Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940 
6.
Preludes (6) for Piano, Op. 13 by Sergei Bortkiewicz
Performer:  Nadejda Vlaeva (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Superb! March 4, 2016 By John P. (Cleveland, TN) See All My Reviews "Many classical music lovers may have heard little of Sergei Bortkiewicz or Nadejda Vlaeva, and more's the pity. Bortkiewicz is vastly underrated, and Vlaeva is one of the finest pianists anywhere. Vlaeva's Liszt recording, which I've reviewed, won the Liszt Grand Prix du Disque; other winners include Pollini, Brendel, and Kocsis. Lowell Liebermann has composed two pieces for her. She is one of the finest pianists I have heard in well over sixty years of listening. So this recording is an ideal meeting of masterful music and superbly gifted pianist. Add a beautifully engineered recording and Hyperion has given us an album that no lover of great piano music should miss. So, a conjunction of stars of the first magnitude.... More than once, Bortkiewicz experienced downright disaster, but as often as circumstances knocked him down, he got up again. He was born into Polish nobility in Kharkov, Russian Empire (now Ukraine), and studied music in St. Petersburg and Leipzig. He had a successful career concertizing and teaching in Germany, but when all things Russian became unpopular in Germany at the outbreak of WWI, he was arrested. He finally retreated to the family estate in Russia, which was then looted by the Reds. Dispossessed and destitute, Bortkiewicz fled to Constantinople. There, he developed a career as a piano virtuoso, moved to Vienna, and then back to Berlin—just in time to be hit by the double barrels of a ruinous economy and Nazism. So it was back to Vienna; Russian music was banned in Germany, and all his German-published music was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden. Brought to financial ruin again, he continued to compose, and the music on this recording is from this period: all of it was written between 1940 and 1947. Given this man's setbacks and the wealth of his invention, it is apparent that there was music in him that simply demanded to be written. The major work here closely reflects Bortkiewicz's experiences and his character. It, as well as much of the other music on this CD, bears the keen edge of nostalgia or melancholy. But it can also be light-hearted, lilting, languorous, wistful, innocent, sentimental (but I never hear sentimentality), grand, highly energetic, turbulent, tender, or heroic. It sings with a robust, ripe, and imaginative Slavic Romantic voice. Some reviewers are reminded of Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninov at various points, and I hear that, too. But for fine composers—and Bortkiewicz surely was one—I think that comparisons are largely fruitless and demeaning. The stamp of Bortkiewicz's soul is on every one of these pieces. The Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 60, is an excellent example of Bortkiewicz's compositional mastery. All four movements begin with the same three-note motif. From this motif come four completely different movements, each with it's own mood and story. The first, allegro ma non troppo, is passionate, with gathering clouds and turbulence, it's second theme nostalgic, perhaps regretful, and very lovely. Drama is to the fore throughout. The second movement, allegretto, oscillates between a jaunty strut and a lyrical and wistful treatment of the same music. The three-note kernel is inverted in this first theme, “right-side-up” in the second, which is forceful, almost militant. There is great striving here, not defeat. Our hero has met misfortune and fights back. The third movement, Andante misericordioso--or merciful, forgiving--opens with a measured, somber introduction. The first section is a long-breathed and very beautiful song. Then comes a contemplative central progression of hymn-like chords and a poignant, regretful melody full of longing. The glowing song returns with more passion; finally, the grave introduction reappears as a conclusion. This movement is a picture of Bortkiewicz's experience: beauty surrounded by solemnity. (Indeed, the arc of the entire Sonata is plainly autobiographical.) The melodic power of this movement make it the gravitational center of the Sonata. It draws our attention and memory. Vlaeva's playing here tugs at the heart; it seems as natural as breathing but is, in fact, a matter of high art. The fourth movement, agitato, begins with power and determination, Bortkiewicz's will at war with his fate. A brief second theme is proud, almost strutting. After a recurrence of the first theme, a third steps forth in a major key, comprising almost half the movement, jubilant and triumphant. The struggle is overcome, joyfully. Throughout, this Sonata fairly bursts with memorable melodies, almost every one a gift. Though the Second Sonata has existed in a manuscript, housed in a Dutch music institute, it and three other opuses on this recording have only recently been available for publication. The new and old versions of the Sonata are largely identical; the other works, Jugoslavisch Suite, Op. 58, Fantasiestucke, Op. 61, and Three Mazurkas, Op, 64 receive their world premier recording, here--a fact I think Hyperion should have noted on the cover. All the music is gorgeous; I am especially drawn to Lyrica nova and Fantasiestucke. I simply cannot imagine anyone approaching the mastery and beauty of Nadejda Vlaeva's performances. Her teacher, Lazar Berman, said of her, “She plays the way a bird sings…She has what the Russians call ‘God-given’, it is what no teacher can produce....” Amen. Berman was no doubt speaking of Vlaeva's singing line, which is wondrously natural, inevitable. Her legato is seamless to a degree I have previously heard only from the great Czech Ivan Moravec. Her sound production also seems as pure as a bird's. Under her hands the piano does not sound as if hammers are striking strings. Sounds seem to bloom, with all manner of coloration. It is prismatic and ardent. She is a story-teller. In the Sonata recorded here, in the Scriabin Fantasie on another album, in her Liszt--in everything I've heard her play--there is a great sense of narrative, imagination, and passion. This is Nadejda Vlaeva's second recording for Hyperion (after Bach: Piano Transcriptions Vol. 10). It puts the massive (or delicate) and colorful sonorities she draws from her Yamaha CFX right in your lap. (Having spent so many years listening to Steinways, Boesendorfers, and—more recently—Fazioli's, this multi-hued Yamaha is something of a revelation.) The booklet notes, from which I've drawn, are thorough and insightful. Hyperion should now record Nadejda Vlaeva as often as possible. I know that I will snatch up every new release, as you should this one. It is also available in a high resolution (24/96) download at the Hyperion web site. For further Bortkiewicz listening, you should try his two symphonies, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, beautifully recorded and also on Hyperion. The first is full of patriotic fervor. The second is in the tradition of Tchaikovsky and is pure, rather than programmatic, music. For more Vlaeva, try her Bach transcriptions, her Liszt recital, and A Treasury of Russian Romantic Piano which contains an earlier recording of the Bortkiewicz 2nd Sonata as well as some delicious Scriabin, Medtner, Liadov, and Rebikov. If you love great piano playing as I do, these will find pride of place on your shelves—when they aren't in your player. Very warmly recommended" Report Abuse
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