pupil Grokhovsky is a latter-day perpetuator of a Russian musical "bloodline"
that runs through the (lighter) works of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov,
Prokofiev and even Shostakovich. This is undemanding but entertaining
music that makes no pretence to greatness but is often finely wrought
and highly accomplished within the boundaries it sets itself. The pieces
I enjoyed least on the disc were the tone poem and the violin rhapsody,
the former being rather overblown and overlong for its subject matter,
the latter a bit too "salon" for my particular tastes (the
booklet compares it, not inaccurately, with Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen).
The Russian Caprice is a more felicitous composition,
revealing a delicacy and lightness of touch absent from the aforementioned
two pieces. Like the author of the booklet notes, I identified an American
influence here, so if, in the "open air" sound, you think
you hear Copland, Gershwin or Barber (or the wonderful Carter Pann,
know him?) then you are not alone.
have, in this listener's opinion, reserved some of their best inspirations
for the pieces they, ostensibly at least, composed with children in
mind. If I think of Britten, Debussy, Tchaikovsky etc., music of innocence
but with greatly enduring qualities invariably springs to mind. Here,
Grokhovsky very much follows the received (Russian) tradition with his
Hans Andersen suite but the music is lovingly constructed, and beautifully
and idiomatically played with the composer on the rostrum and his brother
at the keyboard. No-one is going to pretend that any of this music is
profound but it is focussed and expertly crafted and deserves to gain
a wider audience. Any of it would go down a treat in a mixed programme
concert, particularly one with a Russian/East European orientation.
this disc is well worth exploring, particularly by those keen on Russian
music generally or unpretentious, "easy to listen to" fare
in general. It is not "great" but is pretty good and may be
just the thing to lift the winter blues and rouse the spirits.
See also Review
by Rob Barnett