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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67511
Recording details: September 2004
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: July 2005
Total duration: 31 minutes 12 seconds

'Evgeny Soifertis throws it all off in great style and musical intelligence' (BBC Music Magazine)

'None of these pieces was perhaps destined to change the course of Russian music, but they all attest to creative exuberance and skill, slightly anonymous in style maybe, though with a resourcefulness and sparkle to the piano-writing that Evgeny Soifertis communicates with élan' (The Daily Telegraph)

'it's hard to dismiss music that tries so hard to be likeable. Certainly, if you've been collecting the rest of Hyperion's 'Romantic Piano Concerto' series, you'll enjoy this latest addition as well. There are strong notes and typically fine Hyperion engineering' (International Record Review)

'Napravnik's Concerto symphonique throws just about everything into the melting pot, from Verdi's Requiem to Tchaikovsky. The Fantaisie opens arrestingly with a massive rendition of The Volga Boatmen, and if Blumenfeld's Allegro proves slightly less individual, in performances as fiery and impassioned as these, it makes an indelible impact' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hyperion's recorded sound is excellent, soloist Evgeny Soifertis contributes impeccably manicured playing, and the orchestra performs with immaculate accuracy under Russian maestro Alexander Titov. So if you are interested in exploring the Romantic concerto literature at its most obscure, here's your opportunity' (Fanfare, USA)

'Star of the show is pianist Evgeny Soifertis … His bravura style is all there, but some pianissimo playing and tender melodic phrasing, not least in the slow movements, might have lifted the works out of obscurity' (Pianist)

'Evgeny Soifertis' effervescent, colourful virtuosity never fails to delight' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Both composers are fortunate in having as their champion here such a charming and polished virtuoso as Evgeny Soifertis, whose gift for combining an almost childlike simplicity with scintillating bravura is perfectly suited to the music at hand, and who receives splendid support from Titov and the BBCSSO' (Piano, Germany)

Concerto symphonique in A minor, Op 27
composer

Allegro energico  [12'58]
Larghetto  [7'15]
Allegro vivace  [10'59]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Concerto symphonique in A minor Op 27 was composed in 1877 at the suggestion of Leschetitsky, the teacher of the legendary pianist Anna Esipova who gave the first performance of the work on 17 December 1877 in the Symphonic Assembly of the Russian Musical Society. The concerto is dedicated to Esipova.

The first movement (Allegro energico) begins with four mighty A minor chords from the full orchestra, a gesture that owes a clear debt to the ‘Dies irae’ from Verdi’s Requiem which Nápravník had conducted in St Petersburg shortly before composing this concerto. The main theme is then introduced by the piano in octaves. There is something reminiscent of Brahms in the scope of this melody, although it has its own distinctive flavour. The woodwind takes over this theme in a more lyrical fashion, although swirling figuration from the soloist maintains the sense of energy and momentum. An expressive linking theme, based on the opening diminished fourth interval of the main motif, is repeated and then fragmented, and leads us to a subordinate melody first stated by the piano in C major (at 2'48''). The short development section begins with this subordinate theme played in E flat major by the strings, accompanied by delicate but virtuosic thirds and sixths from the piano (from 4'18''). This development section emphasizes the tight motivic construction of the movement as well as its driving energy. The recapitulation begins with the return of the main theme in C major (from 6'06''); in the repeat the soloist metamorphoses the main theme, giving it a more lyrical character (meno mosso), later imitated in dialogue with the flute. After a coda that summarizes the melodic ideas comes an exquisite chordal transition from the strings which leads directly into the second movement.

The Larghetto, in B flat major, begins with a nocturne-like theme from the piano, supported by lilting left-hand chords. An episode in G minor (poco più mosso) introduces a secondary theme in the orchestra, and is characterized by the delicate double-note figurations from the soloist which lend the music an almost impressionistic colouring. The music’s tenderness is combined with a latent passion which grows until the second theme resounds from the full orchestra supported by the piano’s figurations which are now in grandiose octaves and chords (energico). The first theme returns, this time from the orchestra, against a backdrop of the piano’s running scales and leggiero decoration.

The finale (Allegro vivace) is built on three themes. The first, in A major, is of a jocular nature, possibly having its origin in Glinka’s Kamarinskaya; the second, in F sharp minor, is a playful Russian dance; the third (meno mosso, con tenerezza) is tender and intimate, and contrasts with the merriment of the first two themes. The confessional mood of this third idea is broken off when the second theme returns, and the element of rustic buffoonery is intensified as the first two themes are heard fortissimo; the lyrical third theme then returns with an even greater sense of contrast. The piano-writing becomes increasingly virtuosic during further interplay between the first two themes which leads to a glorious statement of the third theme, grandioso and forte, played by the orchestra with flamboyant arpeggios and passagework from the soloist. (Such exalted, hymn-like culminations are typical of the finales of Russian piano concertos, as in for example Tchaikovsky’s first and Rachmaninov’s second.) The coda is thrilling and triumphant, the work closing in a whirlwind of arpeggios and octaves.

from notes by Evgeny Soifertis © 2005

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