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Alexander TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977)
Piano Concerto No.1, Op.12 (1919-20) [18:44]
Piano Concerto No.3, Op.48 (1931-32) [17:53]
Festmusik, Op.45a (1920) [11:36]
Symphonic March, Op.80 (1951) [5:36]
Noriko Ogawa (piano)
Singapore Symphony Orchestra/Lan Shui
rec. January, November 2002, Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore. DDD
BIS BIS-CD-1317 [55:19]
Experience Classicsonline

The Tcherepnin dynasty comprises Nikolai (1873-1945) the father, Alexander (1899-1977), the son and Ivan (1943-1998) and Sergei (b.1941), the sons of Alexander. Alexander grew up amid an affluent and musical family. Their home welcomed the leading artistic lights of Russian society. The 1917 Revolution changed everything for the Tcherepnins and they emigrated to Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1921 they moved to Paris where Alexander’s circle included Martinů and Tansman. Alexander lived in China and Japan between 1934 and 1937. He married the concert pianist Lee Hsien Ming and spent the war years in Paris. In 1948 he emigrated to the USA, living in Chicago and New York.

My first encounter with the music of Alexander Tcherepnin came courtesy of Liszt-hero David Wilde in the Sixth Piano Concerto - a BBC Radio 3 broadcast with the BBC Northern in February 1979. I had known about Tcherepnin in very vague terms because of the golden era LP of piano concertos 2 and 5 recorded with the composer as soloist and Rafael Kubelik conducting the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra. That was in 1968 on Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft DGG 139 379 - later on DG 453 157-2. His Ten Bagatelles for piano and orchestra, Op. 5 was recorded in 1960 by Margrit Weber with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and Ferenc Fricsay (DG 463 085-2).

The single movement - Allegro tumultuoso - Piano Concerto No. 1. It launches with a drumming and thrumming start. It has some of the uprush of the Prokofiev First Concerto. The music rises to a surging romantic plateau. The only blemish on this rearing, heroic and confident work is the presence of some rather mundane fugal pages. It was written in the Caucasus in 1918-19. The Third Concerto is in two movements. It was written en route between Boston and Cairo. Angular, sporting a klaxon skirl and with some statuesque dissonance the finale rises to an edgy Boléro eruption. The allegro makes play with a fugue. Festmusik is the concert-hall title for a suite of incidental music to the drama The Wedding of Sobeide. The Ouverture is whirling storm similar to the wildest Mossolov and Markevitch. There’s also a phantasmal screechy dance of the evil dwarves and an Armenian flavoured finale. The Symphonic March shares the optimistic bustle and even euphoria of the First Piano Concerto. The optimism contrasts with pages of wailing fear and sorrow. It supports echoes of Russian nationalism but is more objective - as is typical of Tcherepnin. There are some lush orchestral touches along the way.

Rob Barnett 



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