Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Elena Kuschnerova Plays Tchaikovsky

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This month I have three Tuesday Blog posts lined up – two of them explore trios, and this one explores some of the piano music of Peter Tchaikovsky.

When we think of Tchaikovsky, we think of his ballets and his great orchestral works, but often neglect his quite substantive piano catalog , which includes two piano sonatas, and numerous “collections” of anywhere between three and eighteen piano pieces. The most famous of these collections is his set of twelve “characteristic scenes” dubbed “The Seasons” which, if you ask me, should be more aptly titled “the Months of the Year”.

The set, written between December 1875 and May 1876, was first published in monthly instalments in the Saint Petersburg publication Nuvellist, which was issued on the first day of each month. Their publication was preceded by a framed announcement in bold type on the cover of the December 1875 issue (No. 12): 

Our celebrated composer P. I. Tchaikovsky has promised the editor of Nuvellist, that he will contribute to next year's issues a whole series of his piano compositions, specially written for our journal, the character of which will correspond entirely to the titles of the pieces, and the month in which they will be published in the journal...
Today’s installment of Once Upon the Internet provides the complete cycle, along with a few “extras” –Dumka ("Russian Rustic Scene"), Méditation from his Eighteen pieces, op. 72 and the Theme and Variations from his Six Pieces, op. 19.

Per our customary approach, the titles chosen were once downloaded from “the original MP3.COM” almost 15 years ago, and feature the Moscow-trained pianist Elena Kuschnerova from live recital recordings. According to her official website Elena was born into a musical family, and started her pianistic education when she was 5, playing her first concerto with orchestra at the age of 9 (The f minor concerto by Bach under the baton of Emin Khachaturyan, recorded by Moscow Radio). She excelled at the elite Moscow Central Music School where she studied with Tatiana Kestner, also the teacher of Andrei Gavrilov and Nikolai Lugansky, and later at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with Sergei Dorensky. Elena Kuschnerova was influenced by the great and controversial Russian composer Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin (1920-1987), who wrote a variation cycle for her.

PianistenProfile (Pianists' profiles) characterize her piano playing with superlatives: “highly developed technique, strong attack, composition-true clarity and seriousness,…seamless interpretations”.

Happy Listening!

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

The Seasons (Времена года)
'12 characteristic scenes', Op. 37a (TH 135)

Thème original et variations Op. 19 (TH 133), no. 6

Dumka (Doumka) in C minor, Op. 59 (TH 145)
"Russian Rustic Scene"

Méditation, Op. 72 (TH 151), no. 5

Elena Kuschnerova, pf

(Live performances)

MP3.COM - 02-10-27

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