hear three Russian concertos (two of them infrequently-played) performed by
three Russian pianists on a single CD is a unique opportunity. The three works
represent roughly three generations of late 19th - early 20th century composers.
Peter Tchaikovsky. Concert Fantasy for piano and orchestra in G major, op.56.
In 1884 when Tchaikovsky began writing his Concert Fantasy, he had already
written his first two piano concertos. Tchaikovsky started composing the work in
the middle of July 1884 and finished the Fantasy on September 4. The Concert
Fantasy was dedicated to Sofia Menter and was first performed in Moscow on
February 22, 1885. Sergei Taneyev, composer and pianist, Tchaikovsky's favorite
pupil and friend throughout all his life, was the soloist, and the orchestra was
conducted by Max Erdmansderfer.
Modest Tchaikovsky, the brother of the composer, noted that the work was made up
of the "remains" that were not used in other Tchaikovsky compositions (mostly
the Third Suite). The work consists of two movements. The first movement is a
synthesis of rondo and sonata forms and contains the longest cadenza ever
written, full of virtuoso brilliance and bright colors. The second movement,
Contrastes, is a cycle of variations also based on the idea of a rondo. This
movement was first conceived as the first movement of the Third Suite.
Alexander Scriabin. Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, op.20.
Scriabin began working on his Piano Concerto in 1896. In the fall of that year,
he brought the first two movements to Sergei Taneyev, who highly praised the
work of such a young composer. In 1897 the Concerto was orchestrated with the
help of Lyadov, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Taneyev. The first performance took place
on October 11, 1897, in Odessa, conducted by Scriabin's teacher, Safonov, with
the composer as soloist. According to Safonov, the work had an enormous success;
however it was not very well received by critics who condemned the work for its
orchestration and performance and called it an imitation of Chopin.
Indeed, this Concerto has a strong affinity with the style of Chopin, who was
Scriabin's favorite composer in those years. It is also influenced to some
extend by the music of Scriabin's classmate from the Moscow Conservatory, Sergei
Rachmaninoff. However without any doubt, this early work demonstrates Scriabin's
unique compositional style.
Alexander Glazunov. Piano Concerto no.2 in B major, op.100.
Alexander Glazunov is one of the most important Russian composers of the end of
the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries. His eclectic compositional style
combines the best traits of the Russian 19th century music: polyphony of Taneyev;
imagery of the composers of the Mighty Five; colorful orchestration of
Rimsky-Korsakov; and the lyricism of Tchaikovsky. Even though Glazunov's style
is described by many critics as conservative, his music is full of rich and
vivid colors and possesses a high inner integrity as well as clarity of form and
diversity in harmony.
Glazunov's most popular works today are the ballets, The Seasons and Raymonda.
He also composed eight symphonies, a number of other orchestral works, seven
string quartets, the famous violin concerto, two piano concertos, Concerto
Ballata for cello and orchestra, one concerto for saxophone, two piano sonatas
and other piano pieces, miscellaneous instrumental pieces, and some songs.
His Concerto No. 2 was conceived during the 1890's, but was not finished until
1917. In this work Glazunov continued the tradition of the Mighty Five, and
particularly of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, who had a great influence on
Glazunov's style in general.
Internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Nikita Fitenko has performed recitals
and with orchestras in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, and South and
North America. He has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as St.
Petersburg Capella Symphony, Russian Chamber Philharmonic of St. Petersburg, St.
Petersburg State Conservatory Orchestra, Slovak National Philharmonic,
Lewisville Symphony, Rapides Symphony, State Hermitage Orchestra, and
Northwestern Symphony Orchestra among others.
Native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Nikita Fitenko graduated from the St.
Petersburg Conservatory with a citation for excellence given to only five other
graduates in the last fifty years. After receiving the Anton Rubinstein Memorial
Award he came to study to the US pursuing his master's and doctoral degrees from
the University of North Texas. Nikita Fitenko is a prizewinner of several
competitions including Belarusian International Piano Competition (Minsk,
Belarus), Beethoven Piano Competition (Memphis, TN), and the Houston Symphony
National Young Artist Competition (Houston, TX) among others. In 1999 and 2000,
his three CDs of complete piano music by the Russian composers Georgy Sviridov
and Sergey Slonimsky were released on the Altarus label. Currently, Dr. Fitenko
holds a position of Associate Professor and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at
Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Since 2002, Nikita Fitenko has been
the artistic director of the Louisiana Piano Series International. He is also
the founder and artistic director of the Louisiana International Piano
Alexander Tutunov was born in Vitebsk, Belarus. At the age six, he entered the
Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatory, being one of three chosen from
200 applicants. He graduated cum laude. Dr. Tutunov also holds diplomas with
honors in concert performance from the Minsk Musical College, the University of
North Texas, and the Belarusian National Academy of Music. On the concert stage,
Alexander Tutunov was the first prize winner in several national and
international piano competitions. In addition to radio and television
appearances, he has performed extensively as a recitalist and orchestral soloist
in the former Soviet Union, Europe, China, Mexico, and throughout the United
States. Among his recent recordings is the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by
Peter Sacco with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. He is presently under
contract with Altarus Records to record the complete solo piano works of Lev
Abeliovich. He also has recorded on the AUR, Bravissimo, and Albany Records
labels. While maintaining an active performing schedule, Dr. Tutunov is
currently Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at Southern Oregon
University, Artist in Residence at the University of Alaska Southeast as well as
Co-founder and the Associate Director of the Chinese-American International
Piano Institute in Chengdu, Sichuan. He is also in demand as an adjudicator for
national and international piano competitions.©