Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Russion Pianist, born in 1979, is winner of the First Prize at the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv. He made his debut with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich under David Zinman and was honoured with the “Reuters” Award by the Verbier Academy. The press called him “a visionary…, that gives everything he plays a deeper meaning.” (Le Temps, August 3, 2001).
About the Works:
The piano is a rather abstract instrument – its individual notes do not have the warm personal character of the violin or cello. However, as notes start to connect, to balance with and against each other, the piano acquires the power of suggestion and illusion: legato, orchestral texture, and vocal line begin to materialize. Composers
have used these powers of the instrument in various ways. These differences and similarities, dictated by the time, style, aesthetic philosophies and individual taste of the composer connect and juxtapose the works I have chosen to record on this CD.
In the works of Bach and Beethoven the keyboard is often used to suggest and reflect (sometimes embellished, sometimes reduced) the orchestral style of the period. The opening movement of Bach’s 4th Partita is practically a “transcription” of an orchestral overture in the French style. The Sarabande could easily be converted into an instrumental piece. The piano sonatas of Beethoven are often in parallel with his experiments in the genre of the string quartet or symphony. The Adagio molto of the Op. 10 No. 1 Sonata foretells the slow movements of the later string quartets. It can be argued that the rapid embellishment passages in this movement are purely pianistical in their nature. It is then interesting to note how these and other “keyboard” ideas in turn influence Beethoven’s writing for string quartet and other mediums. The finale of this sonata is full of symphonic contrasts and uses a closely related version of the same motif that opens Beethoven’s 5th Symphony but predating it by several years.
Scriabin’s early style continues Chopin’s direction in that his piano writing does not attempt to reflect the orchestra at all (save for a few exceptions). Like Chopin, Scriabin’s piano music manifests a total love for the instrument itself. While Bach and Beethoven’s musical thoughts are often adopted (arranged) for the piano, the textures of Scriabin are designed to bring out the most resonant harmonics that are natural to the instrument. In the later years Scriabin changed his style drastically and even though the Op. 65 Etudes remain virtuosic piano compositions, their technical difficulties are now more influenced by Scriabins purely compositional interests. In each piece he limits himself to a specific interval. The 9th, the 7th and the 5th are respectively the boundaries of the three etudes. This unusual choice gives these etudes their unique sound. The intervals combine into typically Scriabinesque harmonies, and at the same time they force the hands into an unusual, and at first uncomfortable layout on the keyboard, thus fulfilling the title’s promise of technical challenge.
Earl Wild’s transcriptions of Gershwin Songs extend the tradition of the romantic piano transcription to the later part of the 20th century. The intricate piano style of Rachmaninoff and Godowsky is introduced to the jazzy melodies of Gershwin’s songs. Wild’s wonderful feeling for piano texture and sonority is evident in his recordings. These pieces highlight the pure pleasure of playing and listening to the sounds of this most abstract, and at the same time, personal instrument – the piano.
-- Kirill Gerstein, 2003
Works on This Recording
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