The Tcherepnins form a Russian musical dynasty. Nikolai
Tcherepnin (1873-1945) is the father, Alexander Tcherepnin
(1899-1977), the son and Ivan Tcherepnin (1943-1998), the
son of Alexander. Alexander grew up in an affluent and musical
family. The family house welcomed the leading artistic lights
of Russian society. The 1917 Revolution changed everything
for the Tcherepnins and by degrees they emigrated - first
Georgia, then Paris in the 1920s.
The present disc is presumably the first of two with
the second Forum disc to present the odd numbered piano concertos
licensed out from the now defunct Olympia. Whether there
is a second disc will depend on how well this one does.
Long before the 1999 BIS series, which mixes Alexander
Tcherepninís four symphonies with the last two piano concertos,
all six of the piano concertos were given their first integral
recording. This Olympia project involved Murray McLachlan,
Chethamís School in Manchester and conductor Julian Clayton.
The two Olympias were issued differently coupled from the
present disc. Olympia OCD439 (2, 3, 6) came in November
1994 and OCD 440 (1, 4, 5) in December 1995.
For ease of reference those full price BIS discs issued
in 1999 are: symphonies 1 and 2 with Piano Concerto No. 5
BIS CD-1017; symphonies 3 and 4 with Piano Concerto No. 6
BIS CD-1018 (see review
There was a separate disc with concertos 2 and 4 (see review
The orchestra was the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted
by Lan Shui. Well worth seeking out.
Back in the golden days of the LP, piano concertos 2
and 5 were recorded with the composer as soloist and with
Rafael Kubelik conducting the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra.
That was in 1968 on Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft DGG
139 379 then later on DG 453 157-2.
The Second Concerto has all the sassiness of Prokofiev.
The writing is chipper with infusions from Stravinsky and
even Balakirev (Islamey
) at one point. Players, soloist
and orchestra, are on their toes ready to deliver the required
lunge and riposte. The work is not perhaps as Parisian-superficial
as the notes might suggest. There are some affecting moments
too especially in the slow-dawning climax of the finale even
if it does then dash back into Love of Three Oranges
This concerto was premiered in a two piano version in Paris
by the composer and Nadia Boulanger. The orchestral first
performance took place in Brest in 1925. The work was originally
for small orchestra. A full specification orchestra was
imported in the composerís 1950 revisions and it is this
Alexander concertised in the Far East during the 1930s.
He married Hsien Ming Tcherepnin (1911-1991) the Chinese
concert pianist. The Fourth Piano Concerto is from 1947 two
years after the death of his father Nikolai and carries overt
Chinese influences. The movement titles are Eastern Chamber
, Yan Kuei Feiís Love Sacrifice
. Rubbing shoulders with the Chinese voices
are the styles of Prokofiev and Stravinsky. The music-making
is precise, the orchestration lucidly outlined and clean,
often witty as in the motoric ice-sculptures of the Love
movement. This contrasts with the romantic
yield and yearn of a melody (1:40) of Chinese sentimental
reach in that middle movement. The Road to Yunnan
a pleasantly skipping affair depicting the joyful march to
Yunnan. This work is overall more of a tart and peppery suite
than a concerto but frankly who cares.
The three movement Sixth - and last - Piano Concerto
shows that Tcherepnin to the last remained the craftsman.
His clear, transparent textures are here churned with a
measure - a modest measure - of dissonance; it was, after
The commission had come from Swiss pianist Margrit Weber
who back in 1961 had recorded Tcherepninís Ten Bagatelles
piano and orchestra, Op. 5. This recording later appeared
on DG Galleria 463 085-2. The Sixth is a dashing work and
in the outer movements much inventive - even festive -
use is made of percussion. Thereís also plenty of rhythmic
ingenuity to tickle the ear in Stravinskian and other accents.
kernel of the work is the drippingly romantic Andantino
can be heard as a distant echo of the Russian-Oriental romantic
tradition so beloved of his father Nikolai.
The Tcherepnin Society
- certainly worth a detour
- promotes all three musical Tcherepnins: Nikolai, Alexander
At its very modest price this disc offers the pick of
Tcherepninís six piano concertos played by a master of
the genre and an alert and accomplished orchestra. Inventive
and engaging music bridging the gap between Stravinsky
Prokofiev presented with sharply defined clarity.