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Alexander TCHAIKOVSKY (b.1946)
Etudes in Simple Tones - Concerto No. 2 for viola, piano and orchestra (1993) [32:59]
Concerto for two pianos and orchestra op. 70 (1999) [20:23]
Yuri Bashmet (viola); Xenia Bashmet (piano)
Boris Berezovsky (piano); Daria Tchaikovskaya (piano)
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra/Mariss Jansons
rec. live, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow, 29 March 2016
MELODIYA MELCD1002497 [53:26]

Alexander Tchaikovsky studied music in Moscow where his piano professors included Heinrich Neuhaus (1888-1964) whose son Stanislav (1927-1980) made one of the iconic recordings of the Scriabin Piano Concerto in 1965 (ASD2607) after his father had recorded it with Golovanov in the 1940s. Tikhon Khrennikov was Tchaikovsky's composition teacher. There are five symphonies (1984-2005), nine operas, three ballets, three oratorios, Russian Requiem, a tone-poem Northern Palmyra Nocturnes, concertos for piano, viola, cello, bassoon, four saxophones and other instruments, choral, vocal and chamber instrumental works. Tchaikovsky is also active in musical theatre and operetta also writing music for cartoons, films and TV. He also wrote a concerto for orchestra CSKA - Spartak. Now there's devotion to football for you; have at you Martinů (Half-Time), Ince, Shostakovich, Turnage and Golightly. The two works on this disc, heard in concert performances with a quiet audience and applause at the end of each, are from the 1990s.

The Etudes in Simple Tones - Concerto No. 2 for viola, piano and orchestra is dedicated to Yuri Bashmet and played here by Mr Bashmet and by his daughter Xenia. The first movement's romantic tones are in a constant rippling undulation. There's something of Pettersson here but at the sweeter end of his range. In the second movement solo viola saws away, brusquely jazzy, with lots of percussion, dragonfly flightiness and loud and skeletal crashes. In the third movement the solo piano gentles its way into the room in stark contrast to the feral nature of the previous movement. The orchestra soughs and sidles, slipping into and out of minor dissonances. The last track comprises movements IV and V. It starts with a screeching drawling rasp and then becomes a sort of Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli jamboree. The Adagio into which this heaving ferment melts is coolingly reflective - gentle and consoling at times. It strikes upwards and becomes increasingly intense and desperately aspiring to triumph. There's much clamorous work for brass. This work is definitely not miniature in nature with its whirlingly virtuosic part for the viola and a smashingly exciting finale.

The Concerto for two pianos and orchestra was written at the request of Alexander Slobodyanyuk for himself to play with his son who shares his father's full name. It started life as a concerto for one piano but when Slobodyanyuk reminded Tchaikovsky of his request the composer just spread the music over the two pianos. A boisterous Allegro ma non troppo is followed by a crystalline dreamy Andante. The Allegro pounds away entertainingly with some very nice grumping brass adding tartness to the machine-gun activity of the pianos. This is a big-hearted concerto that is full of exuberant energy and, at the close, not a few echoes of the chugging victorious writing of Philip Glass.

Among other recordings of the music of this composer you will find his Double Concerto Distant Dreams of Childhood for violin, viola and orchestra (1988) on Phoenix and the Violin Concerto played by Viktor Tretiakov on Brilliant Classics.

The notes for this disc are in Cyrillic and English.

Rob Barnett



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