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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67328
Recording details: October 2001
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: May 2002
Total duration: 8 minutes 15 seconds

'Hamish Milne’s poetic insight comes as no surprise … This is rather a find … Civilised, rewarding listening, warmly recommended to anyone for whom aesthetic novelty matters less than purely musical value' (Gramophone)

'Sumptuous recording, with brilliant and thoughtful playing by Hamish Milne … Piano enthusiasts looking for new material – especially those interested in Russian music – will certainly enjoy this' (American Record Guide)

'This is altogether exceptional playing … it made me want to dust down my two volumes of Alexandrov's music and take them straight to the piano to find out what other treasures they have in store. May it please be the first of several' (International Record Review)

'Hamish Milne, on this new Hyperion release is a persuasive advocate for this music … Recommended? But of course, and let’s hope that more Alexandrov appears, and soon' (Fanfare, USA)

'Imagine a cab ride where the driver is in the same league as Formula One driver Michael Schumacher. There’s something similar to be said for this Hyperion release, in which we have the privilege to hear a forgotten but phenomenal composer through the mind of such a distinguished and world-class pianist as Hamish Milne' (Pianist)

'Milne expounds all this music … with evident affection and belief, and with all the musicality and technical mastery it demands, in an absolutely first-rate recording' (International Piano)

'Hamish Milne believes in this music 125 percent, and he sails through the composer’s daunting challenges with complete technical command and a gorgeous tone to match' (ClassicsToday.com)

'On a envie de remercier le pianiste Hamish Milne pour son interprétation magnifique, très soignée, et surtout pour nous permettre de découvrir une musique aussi belle, doucement expressive et envoûtante’ (Répertoire, France)

Six Preludes, Op 1
composer

Languido  [1'25]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Alexandrov’s debut as a composer were the Cinq Préludes Op 1, written between 1907 and 1910 and published in 1916; a sixth prelude was added in 1927. The composer revised the work in the 1960s and placed the sixth prelude at the beginning. Although the atmosphere and compositional structure of the work owes much to early and middle period Scriabin, the pieces (like Szymanowski’s Preludes Op 1) are far more than eclectic experiments: Scriabin’s gestures form just a starting point for new harmonic and psychological quests. Myaskovsky wrote an favourable review of Alexandrov’s Opus 1.

Mr Alexandrov’s Preludes reveal a musician of excellent taste who has a good understanding not only of piano technique but also of pure compositional technique […] The Preludes do not as yet show any clear originality, but the mastery and conviction of the style in which they are written […] lead us to suppose that his talent will eventually develop quite independently of outside influences. The fact that the influence of early Scriabin can still be detected in no way diminishes the merits of the fresh and attractive compositions of Mr Alexandrov.

Particularly characteristic of Alexandrov is a tendency to write a detailed and at times highly complex part writing, whereby the transitions are often veiled between horizontal lines and vertical sounds, with a merging of harmonic and melodic development. The opinions of colleagues among Taneyev’s pupils (including those of Alexei Stanchinsky, a genius who died young) confirmed Alexandrov’s belief that after many years of immaturity, he had finally composed his first mature work. It was only Taneyev himself who could not accept the style of these harmless apprentice pieces which deviated too far from his own conservative ideas:

During my apprenticeship with Taneyev, my compositions were still rather childish and showed many technical blemishes that needed correcting. Only once, in the autumn of 1909, did I show him a little piece which was free of such blemishes and which, despite its small format, could be called a work of art. That was the Prelude which was later (1916) published as Opus 1 No 1 [later No 2]. “Goodness me! How very ‘modern’”, said Sergei Ivanovich with good-humoured irony, sitting in his rocking chair. That was all. I was furious at the time. I had expected some encouragement, because I had only just heard Zhilyayev’s opinion, which was quite different: “That is your first work to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken away. Congratulations!” And Alyosha Stanchinsky was of the same opinion. He found that my individuality expressed itself in this Prelude “in a synthesis of Scriabin and Kalinnikov”. I don’t know whether this remark is true, but I can now see the justice of Zhilyayev’s opinion and the pedagogic accuracy of what he told me. […] I still do not quite understand Taneyev’s irony. Sergei Ivanovich did not like ‘modern’ music. But then what was ‘modern’ about my simple and modest Prelude? The figure in the left hand, perhaps? Much more so, surely, the way those triplets are grouped [across the bar-line], in the manner of Scriabin. But my Prelude was partly composed in the spirit of early Scriabin, whom Taneyev greatly admired. […] Perhaps my work was ‘modern’ for him in that it followed the fashion of composing little preludes, which ‘finish almost before they have begun’. He was always telling us, by the way: “Why do you always write prelude after prelude? When will you finally write a fugue?”

from notes by Christoph Flamm © 2002
English: Roland Smithers

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