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CR-101. Olga Kotlyarova. Ravel, Durlet, Rachmaninov

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CR-101. Olga Kotlyarova. Ravel, Durlet, Rachmaninov

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Weight: 120 g

The incredibly magnificent "Gaspard de la Nuit" (1908) by the outstanding French composer Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937) is the pearl of his creations. Ravel referred to the poems from "Gaspard de la Nuit" as for being "masterly transcendent". This cycle is the attainment of the XXth century but calls upon the romantic pianism. Technique, Liszt's concert spirit, literary program and the theme of hallucination return us to the romantic era. "That Gaspard cost me devilish efforts because the author of the verses was a real devil" (from Ravel's letter to Mrs. Godebskaya, 17th of July 1908).

The author in question is the French dramatist and poet Aloysius Bertrand and his cycle of free verses "Gaspard de la Nuit". Ravel used only three poems. "Ondine" is a fantastic creature from the water, the magic mermaid. "Le Gibet" is the horrifying night vision with chilling sounds (a terrible knell, a groan of the hanged man, a wail of the wind). Finally "Scarbo" is a wicked spirit of the night, a grotesque dwarf "dropped from witch's distaff spindle", an ominous grimace. Ravel ignores plotline and demonstrates an abstract notion about something weird.
Ravel's favorite character of the water appears in the first poem. Water flows and constant change creates an illusion which hides a phantom of the water-nymph in the depths. The music narration flourishes, "overflows the banks" and then Ondine disappears, "dissolves in clear rain-drops".

The dramatic tension in "Le Gibet" is reached without any delivery. According to the composer the piece "goes monotonously and is deterrent by the simplicity movement". The empty "lifeless" ninth chords are a frightful oscillation, a ghostly chime, a stupefied "far - close".

"Scarbo" is an exceptional masterpiece, one of the most difficult in the world of piano literature. It is widely known that composing a piece more complex than Balakirev's "Islamey" is an enormous creative task. This is a type of "devilish scherzo which leads its history from different "infernal" pieces of the romantic period (I. Martinov). Picturesqueness is nearly visible, new and original methods are exactly selected. Suddenly long increase "collapses", petty technique turns into massive chords. But orbed melodic phrases which appear again are scattered by prickly seconds, Scarbo evanesces.

Emmanuel Durlet (Antwerp/ Belgium 1893-1977) was a pupil of Frans Lenaerts at the Royal Flemish Conservatoire of Music in Antwerp. He obtained his degree for piano with the highest honours at the early age of 16. To improve his technique and interpretation style, he set off for Vienna (April 1912 - June 1914) to study under the world famous pianist and composer Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938) at the Meisterschule fur Klavier of the Kaiserliche Akademie fur Musik.

In 1918, Emmanuel Durlet embarked on a career as an unrivalled performer. One of his most brilliant achievements was the performance (by heart) of Beethoven's 32 sonatas, spread over ten recitals in a period of two months.

In 1920 he was appointed professor of piano classes for the higher grades at the Royal Flemish Conservatoire of Music in Antwerp. He held this function for 39 years. In 1933 Emmanuel Durlet started to perform his own compositions. This oeuvre comprises more than 130 works for piano, a concerto for piano and orchestra, a concerto for violin and orchestra, works for chamber music and more than 200 works of the Flemish harpsichordists of the 18th century, re-written for the piano.

Durlet prefers to give his work evocative titles. Descriptive and programmatic elements are a constant in his entire oeuvre. The organic integration of various piano techniques and the transformation of those brilliant techniques into an expressive and meaningful pianistic language, together with a highly individualistic melody and a rich and, at times, surprising harmony give the compositions a very personal and recognizable style.
Emmanuel Durlet composed "Heights" (1943) for a cousin who owned a private plane. However, he had never succeeded in persuading the composer, who suffered from vertigo, to accompany him on one of his flights. By way of apology for repeatedly declining his invitation Durlet composed "Heights" in which the vastness of the cosmos is disturbed by the feeling of constriction which is symptomatic of vertigo.
"The Idol with the mocking Smile" (1943) differs from most of Durlet's other pieces. He departs from our medieval past, which is his usual source of inspiration, and draws on a certain exoticism, rooted in a very particular colour range.

All Soul's Day flowers The refined composition "Chrysanthemums" (1935) incorporates the flowing features of the "Dies irae, Dies illa". In contrast a merry wind waltzes through the rampant greenery of the peaceful final resting place.

The great Russian composer, Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943), believed that the early nineteen hundreds were the happiest period of his life. At that time he composed the following pieces: Piano Concerto no. 2; Suite for two pianos op. 17; romances op. 21; cantata "Spring"; Variations on the theme by Chopin; the opera "Stingy Knight" and many other works. Two series of Rachmaninov's preludes, op. 23 and op. 32 (1903, 1910), were supposed to make up one cycle together with the Prelude in C sharp minor, op. 3. To achieve this goal each piece was written in one of the 24 tonalities. A number of critics believe the idea was adopted from Frederic Chopin, who created his famous preludes 70 years previously. The 10 preludes op. 23 are unique in their form and music content. As the cycle grows a common tendency "from darkness to light" takes place. This was transferred from his second piano concerto. Five dramatic pieces are interlaced with light tones. Within the first preludes a sharp image contrast is emphasized, the same cannot be said of the other ones.

The elegiac thoughtful first F sharp minor prelude appears to have the features of folk songs and the image of a lonely soul in lyric landscapes. The monumental picture of a spontaneous mass ecstasy in the second prelude B flat major gains the features of tense intonations of the third piece in D minor. This prelude can undoubtedly be referred to as a romantic "dance macabre". The fourth prelude in D major, depicts Russia with its vast breath, deep soul, embroidered songs. In Repin's opinion it was "a lake in Russian spring full-water". The fifth prelude (G minor) "alla Marcia" gained strong popularity. "I always had an awful feeling when Rachmaninov played this prelude. The beginning of his playing had a dreadful calmness Then crescendo resulted in tremendous power, it seemed to be a flow of sounds that made us shiver and covered everything around us with strength and indignation" (from the Zoya Pribytkova's memoirs). A stunning purity of lyric feelings in the sixth E flat major prelude connects it with the section of the second part of the second concerto. The seventh dramatic prelude in C minor is written in improvisation genre. The A flat major eighth bears the narrative features of the beginning. The spring mood of this prelude transforms into a dull rustle of the wind in the ninth prelude in E flat minor. The cycle finishes with the tenth G flat major prelude full of light lyric feelings, poetry of a modest nature.

Olga Kotlyarova was born in Moscow, Russia. She started to learn piano when she was four. She received her first musical education at the Uspensky Special Music School under the Tashkent Conservatory with N. Mendelssohn and afterwards at the Special Music School under the Voronezh Art Academy with Professor A. Dubovik. During her studies the young pianist was interested in different music styles. She graduated from the St. Petersburg State Conservatory with the highest honours as a pianist in the class of Professor E. Murina, as an organist in the class of Honoured Artist, Professor T. Tchausova and as a harpsichordist in the class of the Doctor of Musicology, Professor I. Rosanoff. Since 2006 she has been studying at the postgraduate of the St. Petersburg State Conservatory (the piano class of the head of piano department, Peoples Artist of Russia, Professor E. Murina).

She won prizes of the following competitions: the first prize at the National Piano Competition in Memory of Pavel Serebryakov (Volgograd, 1996), the second prize at the Chamber Music Competition in Memory of Ludwig van Beethoven (St.-Petersburg, 2000), the first prize at the Grant Competition "The Muses of St. Petersburg" (St.-Petersburg, 2003), the first and the second prizes at the International Competition "Hopes, talents, masters" as a pianist and an organist (Bulgaria, 2003), the special prize "The Hope of Mother Country" at the International Organ Competition in Memory of M. Tariverdiev (Kaliningrad, 2003), the first prize at the Emmanuel Durlet International Piano Competition (Belgium, 2005) and the second prize at the International Competition "Austria Barock Akademie" as an organist and a harpsichordist (Austria, 2005).

She performed with numerous orchestras under baton of such conductors as S. Skripka (Moscow), E. Serov (Volgograd), A. Gura (Voronezh), A. Shteinluht (Saint-Petersburg), A. Anisimov (France), M. KaLok (Australia) and E. Korkmaz (Turkey). She is also interested in contemporary music. She became a first performer of pieces by F. Huber (Switserland), Sh. Noa (Israel), V. Goryanin (Russia) and others.

The pianist regularly gives solo recitals in Russia and abroad. She played at such famous concert halls as Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, deSingel in Antwerp, Riga Dome in Riga, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow and the Philharmonic Halls in St. Petersburg.

Since 2007 Olga Kotlyarova is a member of the "Union of Concert Artists of Russia" and the soloist of "Petersburg-Concert".

Andrea Durlet,

Ekaterina Iliycheva

Classical Records

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