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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: 22 minutes 37 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)

Sonata in B major, Op 9
1909; Berlin

Presto  [4'27]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Written in 1909 while living in Berlin, the Sonata in B major, Op 9, is Bortkiewicz’s first large-scale work. Although never a very successful concert pianist, Bortkiewicz was at this time giving concerts throughout Europe including tours in Germany, Italy and Russia and appearances in the cities of Vienna, Budapest and Paris. It would seem likely that this sonata was written with these concerts in mind.

The work has a conventional structure with the first movement providing a suitably dramatic opening full of passion, virtuosity and soaring melody—the hallmarks of Bortkiewicz’s piano-writing. The second movement is perhaps the most successful, with a haunting opening melody which is later embellished with great simplicity and elegance—proof that he was more than just a barnstormer. The last movement is a ‘no holds barred’ study of virtuosity suitable for impressing even the most jaded audience in an era of great piano virtuosos. This sonata (as with so many other works by Bortkiewicz) leaves one wondering what fame and fortune the composer might have enjoyed had fate later brought him into contact with Hollywood.

from notes by Stephen Coombs © 2000

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