Hyperion Records

Five Études in Different Intervals, Op 68

'Kapustin: Piano Music, Vol. 2' (CDA67433)
Kapustin: Piano Music, Vol. 2
No 1: Allegro: Étude in minor seconds
No 2: Allegro: Étude in fourths and fifths
No 3: Animato: Étude in thirds and sixths
No 4: Vivace: Étude in major seconds
No 5: Animato: Étude in octaves

Five Études in Different Intervals, Op 68
If Kapustin’s Op 40 Concert Études exemplify his jazz style in its most lush, romantic keyboard manifestations, the Five Études in Different Intervals, Op 68 hold twentieth-century virtuoso piano techniques up to a fun-house mirror. The first Étude is a madcap study in minor seconds and major sevenths that recalls the bouncy demeanor of Zez Confrey’s Kitten on the Keys. In this case, however, someone has dosed poor kitty with Grade A Catnip! The second piece, an Étude in fourths and fifths, touches upon the rhythmic complexities and constantly shifting accents familiar from Conlon Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano and György Ligeti’s first book of Piano Études. Should you be curious to hear how Scriabin’s Étude in Thirds might sound recomposed by a hyperactive Mariachi musician with an obsession for Burt Bacharach’s Do You Know the Way to San José, look no further than Étude No 3, where busy left-hand runs and broken octaves provide a safety net for the right hand’s acrobatic thirds and sixths. In Étude No 4 the first Étude’s right-hand minor seconds return in their major guise, served up with the type of syncopated, punchy swing immortalized in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The fifth and final Étude is a veritable tour de force that aims to be the octave study to end all octave studies. Its main ingredients superficially resemble Gottschalk’s paraphrases on national themes, the guileless melodic sweetness of Moszkowski’s La Jongleuse, the celebrated repeated notes of Liszt’s Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody, the finale of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata, Miles Davis’s So What, and just about any up-tempo Erroll Garner recording you can name. Kapustin’s bottomless well of thematic resourcefulness works overtime here, and generates the kind of momentum that might have encouraged another composer to go on and on and on. And on and on. But like most good composers, Kapustin knows when to stop. A decisive, upward glissando on the black keys brings the opus, and this recital, to a rousing close.

from notes by Jed Distler © 2004

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