Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Trio No. 2
Miguel Borrego (vn); José Miguel Gómez (vc); Juan Carlos Garvayo (pn)
NON PROFIT 1405 (56:28)
Back in 1991, when I was still scouring Europe and even the former Soviet Union for vinyl objects for my insatiable record customers, I happened across a Melodiya LP containing solo piano works performed by the then-unknown pianist-composer Nikolai Kapustin, a Ukrainian-born (1937) musician who
emigrated to Moscow when he was 14. Actually on the trip that spring, I found two copies of that disc, but I sold only one copy on my monthly list, since the other went directly into my own collection upon my having auditioned it. Kapustin’s music constitutes an infectious synthesis of jazz and classical music. The harmonic language, rhythms and melodic gestures are all drawn from the jazz world, but the forms are more or less classical: suites, sonatas, concertos, solo piano pieces, and piano trios. The latter are, of course, heard in this recital.
Consequently, Kapustin may legitimately be described as the Ukrainian Claude Bolling, who remains better known in the West, at least for now. At some point a few years ago, Marc-André Hamelin, the brilliant world-renowned Canadian pianist (and a customer of Ars Antiqua, back in our retail days) somehow heard some of Kapustin’s solo piano pieces, obviously liked them, and subsequently recorded an entire CD of the pieces for his label, Hyperion. That CD must have sold quite well, because Kapustin’s name is no longer languishing in the obscurity of the LP remainder bins in Russia. I’m sure awareness of Kapustin’s music has also filtered into this country via means other than Hamelin, but his CD must have had a significant impact.
It is easy to hear why his music has made such inroads into Western consciousness (and mine in particular, when I first heard it). This is, simply put, fun music, and will lift any listener out of the deepest doldrums. To analyze this music would entirely miss the point: This is not music to be scrutinized, but simply enjoyed for what it is. Obviously the addition of a violin and a cello permits the infusion of additional colors into the music, but Kapustin’s music is such that one could arrange it for almost any conceivable combination of instruments, and it would likely work well. I will note that there is a slight, but perceptible movement towards more classical sonorities in the most recent of these works, the Trio No. 2.
Trío Arbós which presents these works to us—the last two are premiere recordings—does a splendid job of capturing the boisterous
joie de vivre
that saturates all of these works (even in their quietest movements). They not only play the notes musically, but have the style down pat. Kapustin himself is a wonderful pianist, but I would guess that he would be pleased with the performances that are herein offered. The recorded sound is also fresh and alive, and leaves no excuse for the reader to not pull up his favorite Internet compact disc site and place his order now for this delightful concatenation of tunes.
FANFARE: David DeBoor Canfield
Primarily celebrated for his jazz-influenced solo piano works, Nikolai Kapustin came relatively late to writing chamber music. His three-movement Op. 86 Trio (originally for flute, cello, and piano) bursts at the seams with tuneful exuberance and snazzy harmonies, yet the four-movement Divertissement Op. 126 offers more assured, intricate, and nimble ensemble interplay. Listen, for example, to the Allegretto movement, where the strings and piano deftly trade “rhythm section” functions. The Op. 142 Trio is less overtly flashy than its predecessors, yet its more allusive melodic trajectory and asymmetrical phrases bring out the composer’s seldom-encountered dark side.
In order to perform Kapustin convincingly, one needs an all-encompassing classical technique and a genuine feeling for jazz timekeeping. Few musicians have both, and I suspect that pianist Juan Carlos Garvayo is more idiomatically attuned to the music’s bluesy inflections than his trio mates. Still, violinist Miguel Borrego and cellist José Miguel Gómez navigate Kapustin’s difficult runs and rapid string crossings with admirable agility and verve. In any event, Kapustin’s well of invention continues to gush at full capacity as he approaches his ninth decade. If you share my unabashed delight in just about everything Kapustin writes, this disc essentially recommends itself.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Divertissement, Op. 126 by Nikolai Kapustin
Jose Miguel Gomez (Cello),
Miguel Borrego (Violin),
Juan Carlos Garvayo (Piano)
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