If you like the piano music of
Chopin, Rachmaninov, and Scriabin, you will love this CD. Getting all three of
these great composers on one CD is like getting three CDs in one.
Rachmaninov and Scriabin wrote some of the greatest and most popular music
ever written for the piano. Chopin's Sonata in B minor, the last of the three
he wrote, was composed in 1844. Its flow of musical ideas is closely related
to the romantic rhapsodies of Schumann and Liszt. Thematic ideas flow into
place one after the other, in a performance by Eroica artist Shoshana Rudiakov
that is both musically fascinating and technically demanding. Working within
this free form, Chopin has created a work of classical proportions. The
principal theme is nicely and successfully balanced by the nocturne-like
second movement, and the development follows an almost Beethovinian course to
the climax, which is one of Chopin's rare forays into contrapuntal regions.
Contrary to the "rules," he omits the short first subject in the
reprise. The nimble and fleet Scherzo is similarly balanced by a nocturne-like
trio. This fast-slow arrangement is reversed in the final two movements. The
third movement-Largo-is an extended and deeply felt nocturne; and the
concluding movement, a lively perpetuum mobile rondo.
The Variations on a
Theme by Corelli (1932) are the only large scale compositions written by
Rachmaninov for piano during his 26 years in the United States. The main
theme, from Corelli's twelfth violin sonata, was taken by him from "La
Follia," a traditional dance-tune which inspired many composers. The work
consists of twenty variations. Because of their brilliant technical
development and multiplicity of charming moods, they are considered a
masterpiece. Variations 11 and 12, often omitted in performance, are included
on this recording.
Alexander Scriabin was a fellow student of Rachmaninov's at
the Moscow Conservatory; where both men studied with Arensky, Scriabin, who
won a Gold Medal for piano in 1891, was on his way to a promising career as a
concert pianist, but decided, instead, to concentrate almost entirely on the
performance of his own works. Contemporaries described him as an elegant
pianist with a smooth technique and delicate touch. The Etudes, Opus 8 Nos.
11 and 12, were written in
1894. Like many of Scriabin's early works, they are heavily influenced by
Chopin. At the same time, his emerging personal style is perceptible in a
subtly developed sense of harmony and sentiment. The Etude, Opus 42, No. 5,
written in 1903, exhibits the fully developed Scriabin language, full of
estatical outbursts and impressionist sounds. Scriabin's harmonies, with their
altered seventh and ninth chords, were a direct precursor of the atonal