Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Eighteen Piano Pieces, Op.72: 1. Impromptu: Allegro moderato e giocoso [3:39]; 2. Berceuse: Andante mosso [5:27]; 3. Tendres reproches: Allegro non tanto ed agitato [2:28]; 4. Danse charactéristique: Allegro giusto [3:33]; 5. Méditation: Andante mosso [4:21]; 6. Mazurka pour danser: Tempo di mazurka [3:10]; 7. Polacca de concert: Tempo di polacca [5:23]; 8. Dialogue: Allegro moderato [3:39]; 9. Un poco di Schumann: Moderato mosso [2:31]; 10. Scherzo-fantaisie: Vivace assai [6:35]; 11. Valse-bluette: Tempo di valse [2:28]; 12. L’espiègle: Allegro moderato [1:49]; 13. Echo rustique: Allegro non troppo [2:18]; 14. Chant élégiaque: Adagio [6:26]; 15. Un poco di Chopin: Tempo di Mazurka [2:50]; 16. Valse à cinq temps: Vivace [1:45]; 17. Passé lointain: Moderato assai quasi andante [4:35]; 18. Scène dansante: Allegro non tanto [3:51]
Konstantin Shamray (piano)
rec. Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth, UK, 14-16 February, 2010.
NAXOS 8.572225 [67:09]
When you read of the life of Tchaikovsky, his disappointments, his heartbreaks, his feelings of torment caused by his homosexuality and the periods of utter despair he experienced as a result, it is all the more amazing that he could produce music of such beauty. This same music is often happy, sunny and joyful in temperament, and with such everlasting appeal. It’s all the more remarkable that he did so just six months before his unexpected death which some still believe was at his own hand due to an impending homosexual scandal rather than the cholera caused by drinking undistilled water. That these short pieces are beautiful cannot be disputed – from the very first note Tchaikovsky transports you into another world with such consummate skill you are left in no doubt that you are in the hands of a genius. He writes with such breathtaking ease you are simply left to marvel at it. Each of these eighteen pieces was dedicated to a friend or associate, from the sister of a fellow-student to a young pianist of whom Tchaikovsky was particularly fond. Each is a miniature masterpiece and they all punch well above their weight. From lullabies to mazurkas, from waltzes to meditations, these little gems sparkle with light and are simply delightful. Playing them here is a young Russian pianist Konstantin Shamray, born in Novosibirsk in 1985, who has been winning prizes since the late 1990s, most sensationally in Sydney in 2008 where he swept the board with no fewer than six special prizes. The description of him as having “dynamite in his fingers” is aptly deserved. Another disc he recorded at the Ruhr Piano Festival of Schumann, Scriabin, Prokofiev and Liszt on the CA-vi music label will certainly be worth seeking out if this disc is anything to go by. This is a thoroughly enjoyable disc with well written and documented notes by Keith Anderson giving a background to each piece.
Steve Arloff
These little gems sparkle with light and are simply delightful.