Vladimir Rebikov

russian piano          Russian Piano Music Series (volume 2)

 

Anthony Goldstone (piano)

divine art dda 25081

 

TTP: 70’05”

 

reviewed by Neville Cohn

 

This is a most welcome addition to the discography of Russian music for the piano.

 

Most of the pieces here are short, ranging from durations as brief as 23 seconds to  two or three minutes. There’s one larger scale offering: Esclavage et liberte which runs for just under twenty minutes..

 

As a schoolboy growing up many years ago in Cape Town and an enthusiastic competitor in local eisteddfodau, I often played set pieces by Ladoukhin, Maykapar, Karganov, Goedicke, Rebikov – and numbers of so-called Fairy Tales by Medtner. Nearly all of these, as I recall, were published by Chester. Their level of difficulty approximated some of the trickier pieces in Schumann’s Album for the Young. They were handy to play at piano teachers’ end-of-term concerts and at school prize giving ceremonies.

 

Very few of these miniatures are available on CD which is a shame as these morceaux deserve an occasional airing – and this recording of music of Rebikov is a welcome addition to the recorded repertoire, not least because, according to the liner notes, of the 43 tracks, one – and one only – has previously been recorded. The soloist in this miniature was Shura Cherkassky who would offer it as an encore from time to time: the charming, lilting little Valse from The Christmas Tree suite.

 

Rebikov, born in Siberia in 1866, died in warmer climes (Yalta in the Crimea)  in  1920, leaving a great deal of music, much of it now being recorded by enterprising and adventurous pianists such as Anthony Goldstone.

 

Rebikov wrote in a bewildering variety of styles; many are on offer here.

 

Listen to The Devils Amuse Themselves and The Giant Dance. Both call for emphatic, foot-stamping heaviness. Goldstone presents these noisy little pieces with gusto. Bittersweet melancholy informs almost every moment of the six brief utterances that are collectively called Autumn Leaves. This is hardly great music but certainly worth an occasional airing.

 

A liner note suggests that the very short items that together make up A Festival anticipate the ultra-brief pieces of Webern. As well, the opening Vivo eerily calls   Stravinsky’s Petrouchka to mind in its rhythmic treatment – and there’s a gritty gaiety to the following miniature which Goldstone despatches with nimble, accurate fingers.

 

Of the suite – Pictures for Children – it is The Music Lesson, in particular, that delights with its deliberate pedal blurring depicting a piano pupil very much under par And The Promenade of the Gnomes makes a graceful obeisance to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

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