Nikolai Kapustin is a Russian composer and pianist. He was born in Gorlovka, Ukraine, in 1937.
Kapustin studied piano with Avrelian Rubakh (pupil of Felix Blumenfeld who also taught Simon Barere and Vladimir Horowitz) and, later, Alexander Goldenweiser at the Moscow Conservatory. During the 1950s he acquired a reputation as a jazz pianist, arranger and composer. He is permeated, therefore, in both the traditions of classical virtuoso pianism and improvisational jazz.
He fuses these influences in his compositions, using jazz idioms in formal classical structures. A striking example of this is his Suite in the Old Style op. 28, written in 1977, which inhabits the sound world of jazz improvisation but is modelled on baroque suites such as the keyboard partitas composed by J. S. Bach, each movement being a stylised dance (or sometimes a pair of dances) in strict binary form. Other examples of this fusion are his set of 24 Preludes and Fugues op. 82 written in 1997, and the Sonatina op. 100.
Kapustin views himself as a composer rather than a jazz musician. He has said, "I was never a jazz musician. I never tried to be a real jazz pianist, but I had to do it because of the composing. I'm not interested in improvisation - and what is a jazz musician without improvisation? All my improvisations were written, of course, and they became much better; it improved them."
Among his works are 18 piano sonatas, six piano concerti, other instrumental concerti, sets of piano variations, etudes and concert studies.
The composer has extensively recorded his own music on Russian and Japanese record labels. His music has recently been championed by a number of prominent western pianists, notably Steven Osborne and Marc-Andre Hamelin.
Alexander Zagorinsky is a soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic; he bears the title of Honored Artist of Russia. Alexander Zagorinsky is a prizewinner of several national and international music competitions, among them - the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
He was born in Moscow in 1962, graduated from Moscow Conservatory and worked as probationer-assistant to Prof. Natalia Shakhovskaya until 1988.
Zagorinsky maintains an active concert schedule as a soloist and ensemble artist, appearing in the music halls of Moscow and other Russian cities, as well as cities of Europe and USA. He has rich repertoire and excels equally in performing works by classical, romantic and modern composers. He is the participant of many international modern music festivals.
Together with the pianist and organist Alexei Shmitov, Zagorinsky recorded a number of CD's with compositions by Sergei Rachmaninov, Alexander Tansman, Edison Denisov, the CD with compositions by Cesar Frank, Claude Debussy, Max Reger and Ottorino Respighi, the CD with sonatas by Benedetto Marcello and Antonio Vivaldi with the organ, and others.
One of Zagorinsky's constant partners is an outstanding Norwegian pianist Einar Steen-Nokleberg.
Zagorinsky is extensively playing the music by composers of the end of XX century and modern authors. He took part in recording of Olivier Messiaen's Quartet To the end of time, and also played the cello part in the great composition of Messiaen Concerto for Four with a symphony orchestra (at the concert dedicated to 100 anniversary of Messiaen in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory). The recording of cello concerto and all chamber cello music by Edison Denisov were highly appreciated by the author.
The brilliant jazz pianist and composer Nikolai Kapustin is closely connected with Zagorinsky by creative friendship ties. He played for the first time Kapustin's Cello concerto no. 2 with chamber orchestra, two sonatas, Introduction and scherzino for cello solo, Suite for cello solo, pieces for cello: Elegie, Burlesque and Nearly Waltz, duet for alt-saxophone and cello as well as cello parts in many ensemble works.
Many of these compositions were recorded by Japanese company Triton. The piano part was played by Nikolai Kapustin himself.
When Alexander Zagorinsky learned that Nikolai Kapustin had composed a cello sonata, he asked the composer for the score. Since then they had worked together on this composition. Enamoured of Kapustin's music, the cellist kept visiting the composer, even when it was cold and snowing. And the music made them close friends. It happened in 1996. For the first time this sonata was played in the Maly Hall of Moscow Conservatory.
Next year, in 1997, sonata for Cello and Piano no. 2 was written and dedicated to Zagorinsky. In same year they played both sonatas at the concert of Moscow Philharmonic.
In 1998, Kapustin and Zagorinsky went to Germany and recorded both sonatas there, but this recording was lost for the unknown reasons. However, they gave a concert in the Music Salon of Natalie Konsistorum in Hannover, where they played both sonatas of Kapustin and also compositions by Beethoven and Chopin.
The recording made during this concert you will find on this disk. This is the premiere recording of Nikolai Kapustin’s cello sonatas - and the only one with the author himself as a performer. It’s worth mentioning that this is the only existing recording of Kapustin playing works of other composers.