Hyperion Records

Six Preludes, Op 1

'Alexandrov: Piano Music' (CDA67328)
Alexandrov: Piano Music
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No 1: Moderato, con agitazione patetica
Track 1 on CDA67328 [0'57] Archive Service
No 2: Languido
Track 2 on CDA67328 [1'25] Archive Service
No 3: Misterioso, con importanza
Track 3 on CDA67328 [2'01] Archive Service
No 4: Impetuoso, protestando
Track 4 on CDA67328 [0'54] Archive Service
No 5: Liberamente, amoroso
Track 5 on CDA67328 [1'03] Archive Service
No 6: Pensieroso, commodo
Track 6 on CDA67328 [1'55] Archive Service

Six Preludes, Op 1
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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