Melodiya lable has released the next CD of Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers featuring some wonderful piano works by Russian composers of the 19th century. Along with thrilling performances by the most promising Russian star pianists Rustam Khanmurzin takes on Russian Dance and Polka-Mazurka by A. Gurilyov and Two Waltzes by A. Griboyedov
History of piano music in Russia goes back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. For less than a hundred years it worked its way up from imitative and naïve dilettantish opuses to compositions which were not inferior to the peaks of West European musical art. By the 20th century traditions of Russian piano (both composing and performing) school were already in place, and they have been giving a powerful impetus to the subsequent development of world pianism until now.
The Gurilyovs were one of the first musical dynasties in Russia. Lev Gurilyov, who was born a serf of Count Orlov, showed his worth as a talented conductor (Orlov’s serf orchestra was reputed to be one of the best in Russia), pianist, precentor and composer of church, oratorio and piano music. Although his predominant variations and arrangments of Russian folk songs and dance tunes has a touch of ‘classicistic’ naivity, they reflected the composer’s desire to reveal national colours of the origin.
His son, Alexander Gurilyov (1803-1858), entered Russian music as an outstanding author of romances and became one from the greatest triade of lyrical composers along with Alexander Alyabiev and Alexander Varlamov who lived in the Pushkin era and wrote chamber vocal music. In the meantime, his contemporaries valued him as a piano teacher and performer, and one of the first Russian pianists of the Field school. His variations and dance pieces were already a combination of intimate ‘home’ pianism and virtuosic bravura of the romantic style.
Only two waltzes from Alexander Griboyedov’s (1795-1829) musical legacy have come down to us. He was a prominent Russian comedy playwright, poet and diplomat who tragically perished in the prime of life. As his contemporaries remembered, his pianistic giftjust as his composing talent, distinguished Griboyedov from numerous dilettantes. His widow played Griboyedov’s piano sonata until the end of her days, but it was never put down on paper.
This is how Elizaveta Sokovnina, a niece of a Gridoyedov’s friend, remembered the making of the very popular Walts in E minor:
This winter winter Griboyedov continued to trim his comedy Woe from Wit and, meaning to to capture all shades of the Moscow society in a more precise way, he would go to balls and dinners, something he was never fond of, and then stay alone for days on end in his study. In the evenings he would play his wonderful piano improvisation, and I, who had a free access to his study, would listen to them with delight till late into the night. I still have a waltscomposed and put down by Griboyedov himself, the one he gave into my hands.
It was arguably the same time (1823 and 1824) when he wrote the less known Walts in A-flat major. These miniatures still fascinate with their lighthearted poetic melancholy.
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