> Sergei LYAPUNOV - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Sergei LYAPUNOV (1859-1924)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat minor Op. 4 (1890) [22.25]
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E major Op. 38 (1909) [19.24]
Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes Op. 28 (1907) [17.03]
Hamish Milne (piano)
BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins
rec 13-14 June 2002, City Hall, Glasgow DDD
The Romantic Piano Concerto series No. 30
HYPERION CDA67326 [59.06]


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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 poem Hashish).

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.

Rob Barnett

Also see Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto Series


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