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Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers. Part 3: Before 1917 - Disc one
Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)
Souvenir d’une Mazurka in B flat major (1847) [4:34]
Variations on the theme of Alyabyev’s Nightingale (1837) [7:47]
Vladimir REBIKOV (1866-1920)
Waltz in F sharp minor (1890s) [2:28]
Waltz from the fairy tale opera The Christmas Tree, Op.21 (1900) [2:26]
Anatoly LYADOV (1855-1914)
Waltz, Op.57 No.2 [2:04]
Mazurka, Op.57 No.3 [1:14]
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906)
Pieces, Op.36; No.4 [2:06]: No.16 [3:51]: No.5 [1:57]: No.14 [1:34]: No.24 [2:59]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Russian Scherzo Op.1 No.1 (1867) [6:33]
Impromptu Op.1 No.2 (1867) [5:25]
Sad Song Op.40 No.2 (1878) [2:34]
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
The Russian Dance and Trepak Op.82 No.6 (1868) [7:17]
Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915)
Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor, Op.29 (1910) [6:58]
Pianists: Vlacheslav Gryaznov (Glinka): Alexei Chernov (Rebikov, Lyadov): Mikhail Turpanov (Arensky): Rustam Khanmurzin (Tchaikovsky): Nikita Mndoyants (Rubinstein, Taneyev)
rec. no details
MELODIYA MELCD1002291 [62:47]

This anthology series parcels out the music to a number of young pianists, so that not only is there reportorial variety but executant variety too. Whether the general listener will appreciate this multiple viewpoint is a different matter and it would largely depend, I suppose, on the rarity of the music. I can’t honestly say that there is anything overwhelmingly rare here. Rebikov, for so long side-lined, is now being slowly rediscovered and though Tchaikovsky is represented by early works they can’t be said in any real sense to be rare. Devoid of a single viewpoint – or liberated from one, if that is your preferred position – this disc offers a series of snapshots of Russian piano music from the time of Glinka, to take in Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein (around 1867-68) and thence forward to Arensky, Taneyev, Rebikov and Liadov.

Glinka’s delightful Souvenir d’une Mazurka is buoyantly played by Vyacheslav Gryaznov and if the Variations on Alyabyev’s ‘Nightingale’ is not quite so impressive it’s maybe because Vassily Sapellnikoff’s admittedly abridged 1925 recording – so full of pellucid clarity – is still in my ears after a recent review of it on APR. Alexei Chernov plays the pieces by Rebikov and Lyadov. He’s a touch faster than Anthony Goldstone on the latter’s invaluable all-Rebikov disc [DDA 25081], though both find good solutions. Stephen Coombs, however [CDA66986] is wittier and more teasing with his accents in Lyadov’s Waltz Op.57 No.2 and Mazurka Op.57 No.3 – warmer in tone, too, than Melodiya’s much shallower effort.

The shallowness of the recording is a small demerit though it does obtrude somewhat in the case of the Arensky set, Op.36 which is played by Mikhail Turpanov He has selected five, playing them in his own ordering and of them No.24, In the Fields, reveals the pianist at his best, with his appreciation of its deft voicings. Rustam Khanmurzin takes on the robust and turbulent Tchaikovsky trio of early works and it’s thus left to Nikita Mndoyants to drive through Rubinstein’s Russian Dance and Trepak, Op.82 No.6 and then to confront Taneyev’s powerful Prelude and Fugue, Op.29. He prefers a harmonically allusive approach whereas Olga Solovieva [Naxos 8.557804] is altogether faster, more directional, and exciting.

If you’ve read this far you may well already know whether the repertoire is sufficiently interesting to pursue this disc, in spite of the fact that you will find some superior performances and recordings elsewhere. The notes are certainly reasonable and the concept not without merit.

Jonathan Woolf



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