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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: 17 minutes 53 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)

Piano Sonata No 4, Op 19
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Fourth Sonata, Op 19, dates from 1922 (revised in 1954). It became a firm favourite with the audiences that gathered at the Wednesday musical soirées of the musicologist Pavel Lamm – a meeting place for a number of Moscow composers. Its striking C major optimism full of victory hymns, dashing march rhythms and rich-sounding cantilenas announced a change in style that was to be characteristic of the compositions of the 1930s but which typically emerged long before the ideological struggles and the later restrictions. The composer’s own interpretation reads almost like a programme for this sonata:

My creative work is based on two contrasting but connected principles. One is the idyll, the serene attitude to life, devoid of shadows. The other is scepticism, irony, sometimes sarcasm. Scepticism accompanies the idyll, casts doubt, as it were, on the assumption that life is devoid of clouds and that one can abandon oneself to such bliss. But scepticism in my works never emerges victorious.

The psychology and dramaturgy of the Fourth Sonata are diametrically opposed to the Third Sonata, which gropes hesitantly forward full of doubts: the triumphantly domineering main theme heralds the victory, which otherwise was still to be won, as a programmatic certainty. Some traces of Prokofiev-like sarcasm, instead of providing a counter-balance, serve rather as a springboard for further heightenings and intensifications. The sonata does not just give the impression of being a unified whole: its stability and confidence engender happiness, and it attains an undisguised grandiosity through the cyclical return of the themes in the stormy finale. Small wonder that Heinrich Neuhaus liked performing this work and, according to contemporary reviews, proceeded with even more vitality than the composer had in mind.

from notes by Christoph Flamm © 2002
English: Roland Smithers

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