on December 20, 2010
Lovers of Russian music frequently think of Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Musorgsky, and perhaps Borodin, but less well-known composers, such as Arensky, Balakirev, Lyadov, Anton Rubinstein, the Taneyevs and especially Lyapunov are often overlooked. Lyapunov became a disciple of Balakirev, who encouraged him and tried to get his works published. Together with Balakirev and Lyadov, Lyapunov collected some 300 folksongs from the Vologda, Vyatka and Kostroma districts. He concertized extensively in Germany and Austria and also taught in various positions. He emigrated to Paris in 1923 and taught there for one year before succumbing to a fatal heart attack.
Lyapunov's two piano concertos are written in a Lisztian style, i.e., each is in a single movement; the various sections flow together with no breaks, and the virtuoso style is prominent. Both concertos are full of melodies, and it is shameful that they are so neglected. The Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes, dedicated to Busoni, is also in the Lisztian style.
This budget-priced Naxos CD competes with a full-priced CD that contains the same three works. The young pianist Shorena Tsintsabadze, a native of Moscow despite her Georgian-sounding name, plays splendidly, and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, under Dmitry Yablonsky's expert direction, provides excellent accompaniment. The sound quality is first rate, and Keith Anderson's program notes are very informative. Warmly recommended.