The Suite No 2, Op 23, written in 1892, is subtitled ‘Silhouettes’. It is in five movements, each representing a different character. The first, Le Savant
(The Scholar), is a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of academic contrapuntal writing and is possibly a self-mocking portrait of the composer himself as Professor of Counterpoint at the Moscow Conservatory. La Coquette
is one of Arensky’s most delightful waltzes, full of sly glances and thoroughly teasing, whilst Polichinelle
(The Clown) is a truly virtuosic tour de force with both pianists negotiating trills in thirds and octaves alongside fast skipping pianissimo chords. Le Rêveur
(The Dreamer) is a gentle romance movement which nevertheless contains a middle section of surprising harmonic boldness and which builds to an impressive climax before subsiding again into more gentle dreams. La Danseuse
(The Dancer) is far from the elegant ballrooms of Tsarist Russia; this is a fiery Spanish dance and contains some of Arensky’s finest and most impressive two-piano writing.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 1994