Notes and Editorial Reviews
Two of the most popular romantic Russian piano works from the mid-1870s are heard on this new album from the celebrated Barry Douglas. Lyricism lies at the heart of the twelve movements of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Seasons’ (1875-76), commissioned by the periodical Nouvelliste to appear monthly, accompanied by poetic epigraphs. Tchaikovsky got his servant to remind him of his duty on a certain day in the month, and composed each piece in a single sitting. Each reflects characteristics of a different month, the style is simple, the mood introspective. While the poetic aspect of The Seasons was prompted by the individual musical contributions, ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ (1874) was provoked by a visit which Mussorgsky made to an exhibition of
sketches and paintings by his late friend Viktor Hartmann. The technically demanding memorial, a popular genre in Russian romanticism, is here played thoughtfully and sympathetically by Barry Douglas.
Musorgsky’s magnum opus requires pianism of dazzling virtuoso panache, and here Douglas is really in his element. His supreme technical ease and tonal control when the notes start flying – as in the ‘Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells’, ‘Limoges’, and (especially) ‘Baba Yaga’ – brings a special sense of frisson.
– BBC Music Magazine
I don’t know how long he has had these works in his repertoire but they sound like old friends, well played-in. Few performances of Pictures have been imbued with such musical and textual integrity; each section is deftly characterised; the full tonal and dynamic range of the piano brought appropriately to bear.
– Gramophone Read less
Works on This Recording
Les saisons, Op. 37b by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Barry Douglas (Piano)
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