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Hyperion Records

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Illuminations at the Arsenal (1865) by V S Sadovnikov
Track(s) taken from CDD22054
Recording details: December 1998
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: September 2000
Total duration: 6 minutes 41 seconds

'Abundance of melodic appeal and inventiveness. Bortkiewicz seems incapable of writing unattractive music so one is able to derive pleasure from the pieces here. I shall certainly look forward to further volumes in this series' (Gramophone)

'The hand of a master melodist and tone painter is manifest throughout this beguiling recital. A recital to delight the connoisseur of forgotten late 19th-century romantic piano music' (Classic CD)

'Stephen Coombs provides suave performances … artfully phrased and scrupulously colored. Warmly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'Une irrésistible joliesse pianistique qui ruisselle ici sous les doigts de Stephen Coombs' (Diapason, France)

Ballade in C sharp minor, Op 42
published 1931

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It is tempting to view the Ballade in C sharp minor, Op 42, and the Élégie in C sharp major, Op 46, as a pair. Though published separately in 1931 and 1932, they are strongly reminiscent of the pairs of pieces in Bortkiewicz’s earlier Lamentations and Consolations. In the respective keys of C sharp minor and major (this major/minor pairing mirroring those in Opus 17) they both almost quote from Rachmaninov’s second Piano Concerto. Whether these echoes of Rachmaninov are intentional or not, it certainly gives ammunition to critics who see Bortkiewicz’s music as derivative. This is a pity as both pieces have that unmistakable Bortkiewicz soundscape and it is worth remembering that Rachmaninov’s now celebrated Concerto was largely unknown to concert audiences in the early 1930s.

from notes by Stephen Coombs © 2000

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