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Alexander Tselyakov (piano) - 20th Century Piano Album
Srul Irving GLICK (1934-2002) Sonata for Piano (1996) [With Good Spirit, 5:59; Slow, Melancholy, 4:28; Fast, Aggressive, 7:04] Gary KULESHA (b. 1954) Fantastic Landscapes [Landscape No. 1, 2:44; Landscape No. 3, 4:35] T. Patrick CARRABRÉ (b. 1958) Scherzo No. 2, The Elemental Wind [4:34] Sophie-Carmen ECKHARDT-GRAMATTÉ (1899-1974) Caprice No. 6 [4:36] Francis POTT (b. 1957) Toccata [6:35] Olivier MESSIAEN (1980-1992) Vingt regards sur l’Enfant Jésus: XI – Première communion de la Vierge [6:49] Rodion K. SCHEDRIN (b. 1932) Poem [3:35], Humoresque [2:34], À la Albèniz [3:32], Sonata No. 1, in C [Allegro da sonata, 5:23; Variazioni polifonici, 3:54; Rondo – Toccata, 4:32] Srul Irving GLICK (1934-2002) (Encore) Song [1:55]
Alexander Tselyakov (piano)
Lorne Watson Recital Hall, Brandon University, 1 May 2004 DDD *
GOLOMB RECORDS GLDC 5701-4 [73’23"]


Warning to 20th-century piano buffs: this disc contains no examples of so-called "high modernism". Nevertheless, in this generous recital, Canadian virtuoso Alexander Tselyakov charts out territory that thankfully has not been surveyed to death. Like Marc-André Hamelin (with whom Tselyakov sometimes performs), it is a credit to a player of his calibre that he tackles music that will be unfamiliar to most listeners, but I imagine most people will find something on this menu that they would like to hear again.

Glick’s 1996 Sonata is written in an eclectically tonal style, with echoes of melancholy Jewish folk-tunes swirling through. Tselyakov clearly enjoys Glick’s work, as the programme ends with his gentle, wistful Song as an encore, following the dazzling final Toccata in the Schedrin Sonata. Carrabré offers a Prokofiev-sounding work, The Elemental Wind, followed by Kulesha’s mysterious Fantastic Landscapes, also from 1996. Then we arrive at Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, and her sixth Caprice, which combines virtuosity with some parts that seem almost childlike (perhaps recalling very intelligent children). Francis Pott, another composer who seems to admire Prokofiev, gives us a plunging Toccata that seems right up Tselyakov’s alley, and judging from the audience response, this is one of the program’s highlights. After that comes a beautiful fragment of Messiaen’s much-longer Vingt regards – this is one of the slower, more reverent ones – that serves as a well-considered break from the faster selections surrounding it.

But perhaps the Schedrin selections take the prize, beginning with the gorgeous, nostalgia of the Poem, followed by a droll Humoresque and a work dedicated to Albéniz that displays a keen admiration for his rhythms and harmonies. Schedrin is perhaps not performed enough in the United States, despite his popularity elsewhere, and here Tselyakov gives the Sonata No. 1 a superlative display, often on the explosive side. Perhaps this excellent performance will in a small way help get the word out. Throughout this recital, Tselyakov gives impressively committed work, often showy but still intelligent, and I greatly admire his willingness to explore works that most of us will rarely encounter, let alone performed with such confidence.

The sound is very good – recorded live, with all that can imply, although the audience noise is minimal. Nevertheless, there is just something about a live recital that carries its own magnetism.

Bruce Hodges


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