March/April, 2003

I've long since given up being surprised at the quality of music by composers writing outside the mainstream: some of the figures who haven't had a look-in are masters nonetheless. What can still bring me up delightedly short is the discovery that a composer of whom I thought I had the measure turns out to have a much more substantial creative profile than I had suspected. It's heartening to have to eat one's words when that happens, of course, and I am glad to make a public apology to Reinhold Glière. Under the influence of his Third Symphony (Ilya Mourametz), the Concerto for soprano and orchestra and other such syrupy scores, I had thought Glière (1875-1956) was a man of overblown late-Romantic gestures. Anthony Goldstone's recording of his 25 Preludes, Op. 30, of 1907 (Olympia OCD 711) demands a re-assessment. Arranged in pairs of major and minor keys, and rising by semitones, the Preludes are a major discovery. The style has its anchor in Chopin, with a tonal richness earned via Schumann and Brahms, and just a hint of Scriabin's chromatic nervousness; Goldstone's excellent notes point out other resemblances - here Fauré, there Liszt, here again Rachmaninoff. The piano-writing is prodigious - virtuosic without being flashy, powerful without sacrificing melody. The set lasts some 50 minutes and would provide an enterprising pianist with the meat of a pioneering recital; cherry-picking would also furnish some audience-elating selections. Goldstone adds the Three Mazurkas, Op. 29 (1906), which grow from teasingly coy to imperiously assertive, and the Twelve Esquisses, Op. 47 (1909) - some surprisingly bluesy touches here - and he plays all of it with sonorous aplomb, in the best-recorded piano tone I have heard in a long time. A magnificent release, hotly recommended.

Martin Anderson

by courtesy of International Piano and Martin Anderson

Piano NEWS  (Germany)

Piano News, Magazine for Piano and Grand Piano, 2 / 2003  March / April  (originally: Piano News, Magazin für Klavier und Flügel)

It is remarkable that Reinhold Glière (1875-1956), born in Kiev,  was so little noticed by the pianists until now even though he composed so marvellous music for this instrument. Could it have been that this composer, who studied in Berlin for three years, then was a director of the Kiev conservatory and later among other things taught Prokofi'ev, Mijaskovski and Chatschaturjan, was regarded as "decadent" during the Russian revolution? Or could it be, that he was never the innovator in a time, in which Skrjabin designed a harmonic system of its own?

Nevertheless one must inevitably admit when hearing this CD, Glière made marvellous cycles. Some of the 25 Préludes of the year 1907 constantly remind in the cyclical construction of other composers like Chopin, Skrjabin and perhaps of some of the romantic heroes, who write for the piano. Nevertheless Glière with his connection of Neo-Romanticism and Russian folk-songs created independent works, which are worth-while to get to know. The British pianist Anthony Goldstone knows how to play these works in a marvellously accurate detail and transposes them according to the partly virtuoso demands.

In this way the Préludes become a statement of the Russian departure between Romanticism and Modern age, the 3 Mazurkas remind for a tangy comparison with those of other composers and are equal to those in every aspect. Especially the 12 short "Esquisses" of the year 1909 are marvellously subtle miniatures which reflect the imaginativeness of this composer.

A CD that should be listened to, if one wants to enlarge his/her horizon.

Carsten Dürer

by courtesy of  Piano NEWS and Carsten Dürer

(translation into English by Olaf Schnadt)