Nikolai (1873-1945) the father, Alexander (1899-1977), the son
and Ivan (1943-1998) and Sergei (b.1941), the sons of Alexander.
Alexander grew up amid an affluent and musical family. Their
home welcomed the leading artistic lights of Russian society.
The 1917 Revolution changed everything for the Tcherepnins and
they emigrated to Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1921 they moved to Paris
where Alexander’s circle included Martinů and Tansman.
Alexander lived in China and Japan between 1934 and 1937. He
married the concert pianist Lee Hsien Ming and spent the war
years in Paris. In 1948 he emigrated to the USA, living in Chicago
and New York.
My first encounter with the music of Alexander Tcherepnin came
courtesy of Liszt-hero David Wilde in the Sixth Piano Concerto
- a BBC Radio 3 broadcast with the BBC Northern in February 1979.
I had known about Tcherepnin in very vague terms because of the
golden era LP of piano concertos 2 and 5 recorded with the composer
as soloist and Rafael Kubelik conducting the Bavarian State Radio
Orchestra. That was in 1968 on Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft
DGG 139 379 - later on DG 453 157-2. His Ten Bagatelles
piano and orchestra, Op. 5 was recorded in 1960 by Margrit Weber
with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and Ferenc Fricsay (DG
The single movement - Allegro tumultuoso
- Piano Concerto
No. 1. It launches with a drumming and thrumming start. It has
some of the uprush of the Prokofiev First Concerto. The music
rises to a surging romantic plateau. The only blemish on this
rearing, heroic and confident work is the presence of some rather
mundane fugal pages. It was written in the Caucasus in 1918-19.
The Third Concerto is in two movements. It was written en route
between Boston and Cairo. Angular, sporting a klaxon skirl and
with some statuesque dissonance the finale rises to an edgy Boléro
The allegro makes play with a fugue. Festmusik
concert-hall title for a suite of incidental music to the drama The
Wedding of Sobeide
. The Ouverture
is whirling storm
similar to the wildest Mossolov and Markevitch. There’s
also a phantasmal screechy dance of the evil dwarves and an Armenian
flavoured finale. The Symphonic March
shares the optimistic
bustle and even euphoria of the First Piano Concerto. The optimism
contrasts with pages of wailing fear and sorrow. It supports
echoes of Russian nationalism but is more objective - as is typical
of Tcherepnin. There are some lush orchestral touches along the