This recording has
been made by musicians united almost by chance - thanks to the occasion. They do
not form a permanent ensemble and they are all otherwise engaged in their own
projects. The music that they have recorded together does not take a leading
place in their repertoire, possibly because it is considered not really
"serious" by "serious" musicians. Even for the composers whose works are
featured these pieces are not essential. Sometimes even the most uncompromising
artist gives up his ambition for a while for the sake of popular recognition and
approval. But even when composing "accidental" music a true artist would express
another, quite different side of his creative individuality following the high
standards previously set for himself.
The occasion played its role not only in creation of the pieces featured here,
but also in the lives of the composers.
It's only now that we recognize Astor Piazzolla as a "tango nuevo"
genius who has conquered the academic music world as well. But everything could
have turned out quite differently. Piazzolla tried to complicate the language of
tango from his early years. Most of his rhythmical and instrumental novelties
only brought confusion to dancers and listeners. After realizing this, Piazzolla
took to academic composition. In 1953 he presented his symphonic suite "Buenos
Aires" to the Fabien Sevitzky competition (albeit adding two bandoneons to the
score) and won first prize. One outcome of his victory was the opportunity to
study in Paris with the famous Nadia Boulanger.
Piazzolla was trying to be a good pupil of hers while hiding his tango past. But
once he couldn't resist and played one of his favourite compositions for her. A
destiny of "tango nuevo" was then determined. Nadia said: "Astor, your classical
pieces are well written, but the true Piazzolla is here, never leave it behind".
Ever since that moment, he never doubted himself, and before long his music was
heard not only in many clubs, but also in concert halls and film soundtracks.
Piazzolla's "Ave Maria" was used to great effect in Marco Bellochio's "Enrico
IV" (1984) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale. However, the
original lacks the lively piano theme in the middle, added specifically for the
present recording by the composer Dmitry Kourliandsky. During the recording it
seemed natural to add double-bass strokes, a typical Piazzolla trait.
Piazzolla's music in general lends itself well to improvisational additions.
Unlike Piazzolla, Polish musician Kristof Zgraia established
himself equally well in a variety of musical genres. Having received an
education at the Music Academy in Katowice (both as a composer and a flautist),
by the 1970 he was regarded as one of leading Polish jazzmen. At the same time
he was performing classics, flamenco, experimental music and even relaxation
music. A product of communist counterculture, in 1989 he moved to Germany and
effortlessly joined the New Age movement. All of his musical interests
(including electroacustic music) became subordinated to his newly-found Germanic
pedantism. His rich experience was summed up in 150 works for flute, (solo and
as a part of ensembles), that are destined both for the concert stage and
teaching purposes. Kristof Zgraia's favourite live concert form is a recital
where he uses different flutes - modern metal instruments, wooden authentic
flutes and different kinds of recorder. He also employs electronic delay
processors.Occasionaly one finds links between Zgraia and Piazzolla - for
example Mediterranean spirit that fills Zgraia's "Flamenco Studies" published by
Schott in 1996.
Hector Berlioz's oratorio "L'enfance du Christ" takes us to the
southern shore of the Mediterranean, to the Nile delta. "An apotheosis of chance
(occasion!)" might be a proper name for the story of its creation. The ageing
author of "Sym-phonie fantastique", distressed by his constant failure to please
the Parisian elite, gave up composing altogether. During a game of cards in 1850
one of Berlioz's friends asked for an autograph in his album. Having drawn a
stave on some paper, Berlioz scribbled a little fragment and was himself
surprised by its naive simplicity. Suddenly a revelation came: the music could
tell the story of Joseph and Mary's escape to Egypt with baby Jesus in Mary's
arms with Bethlehem shepherds singing them a farewell.
This fragment, composed for an occasion was soon needed to fill a gap in one of
Berlioz's conducting appearances. Not willing to scare the Parisians by 'Berlioz
the composer', he attributed the "Shepherds' Chorus" to fictitious 17th century
composer called Pierre Ducre. The trick has worked; one of the listeners was
even heard to say: "It has real melody! At all events Mr. Berlioz will never
write music like that."
Pierre Ducre's success did not flatter Berlioz. Still, in time he added various
numbers and later, whole parts to "L'Adieu des bergers". Slowly a three-part
oratorio "L'enfance du Christ" was born. Unlike his previous works it lacked
romantic exaggerations and was as transparent as a child's tear. When, in 1854,
Berlioz has finally gained courage to perform "L'enfance du Christ" in Paris,
fame finally found him, albeit for a short time.
In the last part, the tired and frail Holy Family arrives at the Egyptian town
of Sais. The baby is barely alive, the refugees are asking for water and
shelter, but the locals are giving none to poor Hebrews. At last, Joseph knocks
on the door of Ishmaelites, forebears of future Muslims. The descendants of
Ishmael welcome the descendants of Israel, remembering the kinship raising up to
Abraham - Ibrahim. To conclude the evening's celebrations, the children of
Ishmaelites play for the guests the "Trio of the Young Ishmaelites" for flutes
and harp, one of few examples of Berlioz's instrumental chamber music. Happy
hosts and guests then go to sleep. In the epilogue of oratorio the narrator
states "And thus it was, that our Savior was rescued by an infidel."
On the contrary, the life of Jacques Ibert could be seen as a
triumph of logical development. Author of numerous operas, ballets, film
soundtracks (including one to Orson Welles's "Macbeth"), he gained recognition
in all of these genres. During the Nazi occupation Ibert, an anti-fascist,
barely escaped execution. He lived to old age and was a recipient of numerous
honours and awards.
His piece "Entr'acte" for flute and harp is itself just an entr'acte between
nothing and nothing. This piece lacks the difficulty and seriousness of his
Flute Concerto (also part of Maria Fedotova's repertoure). But it has something
that blends well with the atmosphere of this CD - a taste of something
Mediterranean, perhaps? This comes from exotic tunes reminding us of Italian and
Spanish folk music.
Returning to Astor Piazzolla, it can be said that in his
latter-years the fame overwhelmed him (thus he was definitely luckier than
Berlioz). In fact he was overloaded with commissions. Now he had to write down
his music - previously not always his habit. So it was that the cycle
"Histoire du Tango" appeared. It was written at the request of Argentinean
guitarist Roberto Aussel, and published in 1986 by Henry Lemoine. Everything in
it is thoroughly urbanistic: artificial lighting and the air filled with smoke.
Each piece describes a particular period in tango history.
"Bordel, 1900" could only have been imagined, as Piazzolla himself hadn't
yet been born. In a Buenos-Aires bordello, girls from various countries -
France, Italy, Spain - are teasing policemen, thieves and sailors. To accompany
a harmless chit-chat musicians are playing a funny and graceful dance. At that
time, tango was often performed on flute and guitar.
"Cafe, 1930" brings a new place and new time. Piazzolla saw this style at
its maturity, standing as he did penniless at the doors on New York's Cotton
Club, listening to Duke Ellington and Cab Callaway. Here, tango is not to be
danced to, rather to be listened to. Tempi are slower, harmonies sadder and
there is less riff-raff in the audiences.
The style of the third piece "Night Club, 1960" reflects the success of
Piazzolla's and his associates' efforts with this new artform. The new tango has
conquered the world scene and - enriched by Bossa Nova - returned anew to
Buenos-Aires,. The listeners became more serios and attentive.
And so to the last piece, "Concert d'aujourd'hui". Tango becomes the
legitimately part of contemporary music, having absorbed the modernism of Bartok
and Stravinsky. This was exactly Piazzolla's goal.
But it seems that here things went a bit too far: "Histoire du Tango" in it's
original version sounds almost too academic today! This situation was rectified
by the composer Dmitriy Kourliandsky. He has re-arranged the pieces and added
the elements of jazz (so much loved by Piazzolla) to the last two movements.
Here we have to say that Kourliand-sky has never specialised in Piazzolla's
music. Rather, his main interests are based around more serious, academic
Kourliandsky, having graduated from the Moscow Conservatoire attended the
masterclasses of such figures in the New Music world as Louis Andriessen, Theo
Loevendie and Vladimir Tarnopolsky, and he now works successfully in the field
of sonoristics. His chamber works are usually performed by the specialist
ensembles - such as "Studio for New Music" and "Contemporary Music Ensemble"
(Moscow), "eNsemble" (St. Petersburg), the British ensembles "IXION" and "11",
"de ereprijs" (The Netherlands) and others. His composition "Innermost man" was
awarded the prestigious International Gaudeamus Prize in Holland (2003), first
Russian composer so to be honoured. His searching experiments with sonorities
and instrumental "super expressiveness" can be easily heard in the present
arrangement of Piazzolla's "Histoire du Tango". And Dmitriy Kourliandsky himself
has composed a piece called "The History of Music" - and maybe this is also not
a simple coincedence…
(piano) has earned a reputation as one of the finest young Russian pianists
of his generation. His performances of both large scale Russian works and also
the central European repertoire have been greeted with critical acclaim.
Melnikov performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony
Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebow Orchestra, the Stuttgart Philharmonic, the
City of Birmingham Symphony orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony
Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, Winterthur, New Zealand Symphony, Bournemouth
Symphony, the orchestras of Symphony Australia, the Malaysian Philharmonic and
In recital, Melnikov appears regularly the world's leading concert halls
including London's Wigmore Hall, Vienna Konserthaus, Chatelet and Concertgebouw
and also at festivals such as Schleswig-Holstein, Gstaad, Verbier, Stavanger,
December Nights, Piano aux Jacobins, Bath and at Claudio Abbado's Festival in
Berlin. Chamber music plays an important part in Melnikov's activities and in
addition to his well established relationship with Vadim Repin, also works with
Natalia Gutman, Victor Tretiakov, the Vanbrugh and Borodin Quartets, Truls Mork,
Isabelle Faust and as a piano duo with Boris Berezovsky. Melnikov was also
featured as BBC New Generation Artist and as such broadcasts regularly on BBC
Radio 3 in recital and chamber music as well as performing and recording with
the BBC Orchestras. Melnikov has close artistic ties with the late Sviatoslav
Richter, who regularly invited him to participate in his festivals in Tarussa,
Russia, and his chamber music festival in Tours, France.
Vladimir Volkov graduated from the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov
Conser-vatoire. He plays double-bass and Viola da Gamba, and also composes music
and produces many of his projects himself. Volkov feels equally at home in a
wide variety of musical interests - ranging from baroque music to the new jazz.
Among his partners are Sergey Kouryohin, Igor Boutman, Arkady Shelkoper, Andrei
Kondakov, Ned Rottenberg, Vladimir Tarasov, Piatras Vishniauskas, Keshavan
Maslak, Maria Bohen, Andrei Bitov, Dmitri Prigov, Sainkho Namchylak, Daref Usef,
Mola Sylla, Michael Moore, Thomas Danko, Christian Schauber, Min Tanaka,
Kaigal-ool-Khovalyg... He worked with theaters "Derevo" and "Skapino", and was a
member of groups "Vershki da Koreshki", "Moscow Composers Orchestra", and "Interjazz
Vladimid Volkov works on a regular basis with the composer and trumpetist
Vyacheslav Gaivoronovsky, the Russian folklore researcher and performer Sergey
Starostin, and the leader of the "AuktsYon" group Leonid Fyodorov.
Volkov founded his own group "Volkovtrio" in 1995, where he plays together with
Sviatoslav Kourashov and Denis Sladkevitch.
He took part in numerous international festivals, among them the Soviet
Avant-Garde Jazz Festival in Zurich (1989), The Goodwill Games (Seattle, 1990),
Jazz Jamboree (Warsaw) as well as in many jazz and new music festivals in
Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Keln, Tampere, Maastricht, Hamburg and other cities.
He recorded dozens of albums and soundtracks.
Tatiana Oskolkova won the prizes at the All-Union Junior Harpists
Compe-tition in Leningrad (1991) as well as at the international competitions in
Moscow (1992), Bloomington (1995), and Paris (1996).
She collaborated with the "Moscow Virtuosi" under Vladimir Spivakov and chamber
orchestras directed by Konstan-tin Orbelian and Saulus Sondetskis. At the
present time she is the soloist of the "New Russia" Symphony Orchestra (music
director Yuri Bashmet). Tatiana Oskol-kova has an active solo carrier both in
Russia and abroad, and has performed at the festivals in France, Netherlands,
and the USA.
Dmitriy Illarionov (guitar) graduated from the Russian Gnessin Music
Academy in the class of professor A.K. Frauchi. He is a prize-winner of the
international guitar competitions in Moscow (1997), Gdansk (1999), Voronezh
(2000), Lodz (2000), Charleroi (2000).
In 2002 he won the First Prize at the XX International Competition of the Guitar
Foundation of America in Miami and subsequently went on an extensive tour of the
USA and Canada. Illarionov has an active concert carrier in Russia and abroad
and has recorded four CDs. One of them (together with the cellist Boris
Andrianov) was nominated for the Grammy Award 2003.
Since 2002 he is teaching at the Russian Gnessin Music Academy.
Dmitry Bulgakov (oboe) graduated from the Russian Gnessin Music Academy
in the class of professor I. Poushechnikov. From 1996 he studied at the Detmold
Musikhochschule with professor G. Schmalfus and is doing his post-graduate
studies there at present time.
He was featured in the International Charity Program "New Names".
Dmitry Bulgakov won prizes at the international woodwinds competitions in
Voronezh (1991), St. Petersburg (1995), Keln (1997), Tunbridge Wells (2000). He
was awarded the DAAD and GWK prizes in Germany (1999 and 2000) and also the
junior "Triumph" award in Russia (2003).
He took part in many international music festivals in France, Germany, and Italy
and performed on tour in Europe, Japan, and Mexico.
Together with the violinist Roman Mintz Bulgakov is the artistic director of the
"Vozvrashenie" International Festival in Moscow.
He premiered works by Elena Langer, Artyom Vassiliev and A. Benneth. At the
present Dmitriy Bulgakov combines his active concert life with teaching at the
Moscow Gnessin Special Music School.
Maria Fedotova (flute).
At the age of 8 she gave her first public concerts as a soloist with the
Mariinsky Chamber Orchestra as well as in a duo with her father, the flautist
Vladimir Fedotov. Maria was born in St. Petersburg into a family of musicians.
In 1996 she graduated from the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire in
the class of professor A.Vavilina-Mravinskaya. Apart from playing the modern
flute Maria devoted herself to studying Baroque music and performed on both
traverse flute and recorder.
While still being a student in 1991 she became the soloist of the Tchaikovsky
Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio under Vladimir Fedoseyev, a position she
Maria Fedotova has a very active carrier as a soloist and performs with
orchestras such as St. Petersburg Philharmonic (music director Yuri Temirkanov),
Lithuanian State Chamber Orchestra (Saulus Sondetskis), "Kremerata Baltica" (Gidon
Kremer), "The Moscow Soloists" (Yuri Bashmet), Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa,
Klassik Philharmonie Hamburg and others. In 2003 she was featured in the "World
Orchestra for Piece" directed by Valery Gergiev.
Among the flautist's chamber music partners are Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bash-met,
Tatiana Grindenko, Alexander Ru-din, Isabelle Faust, Alexander Knyasev, Maurice
Bourge, Sergey Stadler, Vadim Sakharov, Alexei Ogrintchuk…
Maria Fedotova has an artistic relationship with Gidon Kremer and was regularly
invited to his festivals in Lockenhaus (Austria) and Gstaad (Switzerland).
Together with Kremer in 1997-98 she took part in the recording of Astor
Piazzolla's "Maria de Buenos-Aires" and the subsequent world tour of the tango-operita.
Among other programs with Kremer are works by J.S.Bach, W.A.Mozart, B.Brit-ten,
G.Kancheli, S.Gubaidulina, P.Vahi…
Maria Fedotova has introduced works by contemporary composers such as:
Bernstein, Tischenko, Davydov, Janar-cekova, Rorem, Kurtag, Takemitsu as well as
many forgotten or rarely-performed masterpieces of the old masters.
She gave numerous masterclasses in Lithuania, Japan and Portugal and was the
artistic director of a chamber music concert series in Moscow.
English translation by Alexander Melnikov.