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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: 5 minutes 26 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)

Obsession passée, Op 6
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Alexandrov was in the habit of studying the works of his contemporary Alexei Stanchinsky (1888-1914). He too took Scriabin as his starting point and tried even more consistently than Alexandrov to combine excessive expressiveness and eruptive extravagance with the stricter forms (sonatas) and styles (fugues and canons) used by Taneyev, and in doing so he abandoned late romantic hyper-chromaticism in favour of new diatonic models or modified scales. It was not entirely by chance that it was Alexandrov who edited Stanchinsky’s works which regarding contents and style were quite simply unequalled, after his early death. Alexandrov’s Obsession passée (‘A Long-Forgotten Madness’), Op 6, which was dedicated to the memory of Stanchinsky, and published in 1918, brings together works that had been composed between 1911 and 1917. These Quatre fragments make reference to Stanchinsky’s tonal language, but also in their titles to the latter’s psychical frailness and insanity (he worshipped horses as gods and doffed his hat to them). Against this background, Alexandrov carried out a number of experiments: in the first three pieces there are no key signatures at all, and in places he abandons tonality entirely, as in the fourths of Langueur (No 1, 1913) and in the nervously iridescent Impression (No 3, 1916). Alexandrov later described the cycle as an expression of mysticism and a compulsive quest for the new; and he considered the closing Epilogue (No 4, 1917) to be ‘a sort of reflection on that period, but in a different time’. He made no effort to conceal the metrical borrowings from Stanchinsky in the Étude (No 2, 1911):

I once even consciously imitated Alyosha. I liked his Prelude for piano in D major in 7/16 time, and I composed a study in 14/16 time, which was later included in the Obsession passée cycle. It is true that our pieces are similar only in tempo, but the idea was borrowed from Stanchinsky.

from notes by Christoph Flamm © 2002
English: Roland Smithers

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