Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Piano Études
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906)

Four Études Op.41 (1896) [7.06]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Twelve Études Op.25 (1832-26) [31.46]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)

Eight Études Op.42 (1903) [16.09]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)

Four Études Op.2 (1909) [9.33]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

Four Études Op.7 (1908) [8.22]
Roustem Saitkoulov (piano)
Recorded 1999 at St.Mary-in-the-Castle, Hastings, DDD
EMI CLASSICS Debut Series 5 74018 2 [72.55]


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The quantity of piano studies published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is enormous and, whatever their benefits may be, many are of mainly academic interest. Standard collections, such as Czerny, Hanon and Bürgmuller, are not without musical value, but primarily aimed at developing technical proficiency. The études on this disc certainly contain keyboard gymnastics, but many have emerged from the conservatory onto the concert platform. EMIís Debut Series is dedicated to young artists on the brink of their professional careers, and Saitkoulov is well equipped to meet the wide range of technical demands made in these short pieces. With the exception of Chopinís and Scriabinís, few feature prominently in present-day recitals, and this is a welcome opportunity to hear them.

The Arensky group, though attractive, comes closer to the didactic purposes of the Classical piano étude, than others on this disc. Naturally the Chopin covers far more interesting, and challenging, territory, since the playing demands expressive freedom as well as the technical mastery. Saitkoulov gives a youthful, performance that combines a strong feeling for the poetry as well as the fluent technique that these miniature masterpieces require.

Some of the Scriabin studies have merited inclusion in the repertoire of famous pianists and are representative of the later Russian romantic school. Here they are played with a bravura that measures up to their histrionic style. The Prokofiev and Stravinsky sets, both apparently early works, were unknown to me, but were well worth including on this disc. The individual styles of these two composers are already detectable, and provide a clue to one of the directions the piano étude was taking: the care taken by some composers (Bartók was one) to provide studies that deal with the specific technical demands of their own music

An excellent addition to a worthwhile project by EMI, my only complaint being that the recorded piano sound is somewhat woolly.

Roy Brewer

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