Murad Kazhlaev – Dagestan Album 10 Pieces on Themes of Native Songs (1973), pieces no.1-4

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Six Moments Musicaux Op 16 No 1 B flat minor

When he was young, Rachmaninoff heard Anton Rubinstein in recital and the older man influenced the younger in his approach to the piano and even in choice of repertoire. In the absence of recordings of Rubinstein’s piano playing we might hazard the suggestion that some remnant of it remains in the playing of Rachmaninoff which of course was recorded. As a composer Rachmaninoff is a somewhat different animal to the Germanically inspired Rubinstein; the early works show the influence of Chopin perhaps, in the layout of the keyboard writing, but the Russian’s individual temperament is asserted very early in his career; the tolling bells of the C# minor Prelude op.3 attest to this. By the time he came to write the Moments Musicaux he already completed his amazing and original Symphony No. 1 in D minor. The set of piano pieces were completed while Rachmaninoff was waiting for the first performance of the symphony, a performance which was incidentally a disaster, due allegedly to the drunkenness of the conductor, Glazunov. These worries were in the future however and in the Moments Musicaux Rachmaninoff makes great strides as a piano composer; it should be remembered he was still only 23 at the time. The title of the set acknowledges the same one used by Schubert for a set of pieces written over 70 years previously. The finely wrought textures and generous melodies seem to grow out of each other organically. The languid melody of No.1 is followed by the dizzy spinning wheels of No.2. The B minor piece is both noble and elegiac in tone. No.4 presents a rushing of left hand semiquavers; a Revolutionary study if you will, but of a Russian rather than Polish cast. No.5 has the feel of a Chopin nocturne whilst No.6 carries all before it in an outpouring of energy.

David Hackbridge Johnson

Valentin Silvestrov: Kitsch Musik No.3 and No.4 (1977)

Nikolai Medtner: Sonata Romantica Op.53 No.1, 1st movement ”Romanza”

Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951) Sonata Romantica in B flat minor, tadalafil Op. 53 No. 1

After decades of comparative neglect Medtner is now becoming recognised as one of the finest composers of his generation. Although great friends with Rachmaninoff, generic Medtner wrote music that only superficially resembles his contemporary. Medtner’s compositional traits are well displayed in the Sonata Romantica: long melodies with a modal flavour, viagra exciting cross rhythms, finely wrought contrapuntal textures and a wide emotional range. The Sonata Romantica was written in 1931-1932 and is cast in four movements that follow each other without a break. The dream-like first movement entitled Romanza, presents a tune heavy with nostalgia and expansive lyricism.
The second movement, marked Scherzo, is a demonic dance of stabbing rhythms and flying semiquavers. The third movement is called Meditazione and features a lilting sicilienne rhythm. The finale presents a dancing theme at the outset. The sonata has a lengthy coda which rather than leading the listener into a triumphant major key resolution, instead emphasises the darker hues of the minor tonality. At the end a series of low B flats resound like the bell of fate.

David Hackbridge Johnson

Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne Op 27 No 2 in D flat major

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