Loosely speaking Lyapunov can be thought of as second
generation Kouchka. He was too young to have shared the development
of Borodin, Rimsky and Mussorgsky; on the other hand he was young enough
to find both encouragement and mentoring with Balakirev. His relationship
with Balakirev was treasured and the evidence can be found in various
events and pieces of work. For example Balakirev's Second Symphony was
conducted by Lyapunov on 23 April 1909 in St Petersburg. The younger
composer also orchestrated the elder’s display-fantasy Islamey
and this has been recorded by Svetlanov and the USSRSO (1986, Olympia
OCD 129 coupled with the Solemn Overture and the exotic symphonic
Both the First Piano Concerto and the Rhapsody
are enthusiastically done on this valuable Hyperion disc. Lyapunov clearly
owes rapturous allegiance to the Borodin camp and his woodwind writing
proclaims strong Russian nationalist sympathies. The First Concerto,
of which this is the first recording, can be rather thickly orchestrated
and the BBC Scottish strings do not always sound flattering. Things
look up substantially in the delightfully tuneful Rhapsody in
which technical wizardry out of Liszt crosses with Tchaikovsky and Borodin.
The Rhapsody should not be missed by concerto fanciers who have
a taste for Rachmaninov's own Rhapsody, Saint-Saëns' Second
Piano Concerto and de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain.
Hamish Milne is no stranger to Lyapunov. He has broadcast the Second
Piano Concerto on the BBC. This may well account for the authoritative
ease in evidence in this recording of that work. Going by the Second
Concerto another of Lyapunov's gods must surely have been Chopin though
supercharged with infusions from early Scriabin and Rachmaninov. There
is even a hint of the sunny opening flourishes of the Brahms Second
Concerto at 1.13 in the allegro moderato. This is bejewelled
writing carried off with spiritual and technical mastery by Milne. We
are already accustomed to Milne's enviable qualities from his many CRD
Medtner discs - all too little sung.
There are or have been other Lyapunov discs including
Fedor Glushchenko's 1993 version of the First Symphony and the Ballade
(OCD 519). Neither this disc nor Svetlanov's earlier collection are
in the 2002 catalogue.
The three works here play for close to twenty minutes
in each case. They are concise and often magically delicate and they
sit well with the luscious Scriabin and Glazunov concertos; a notch
down from the Scriabin but thematically superior to the Glazunovs.
Also see Hyperion
Romantic Piano Concerto Series