Anatoly Alexandrov (1888-1982) is one of the forgotten figures of the Russian school of pianism that embraced Taneyev, Rachmaninov, Skryabin, Shostakovich, Gilels and so many other composers and pianists. Alexandrov composed fourteen sonatas and much else for piano in an attractive late-Romantic style that owes much to Nikolai Medtner, his teacher and friend. This first volume in the first-ever survey of his piano music presents a conspectus of works composed between 1939 and 1962.
Kyung-Ah Noh, piano
Four Narratives, Op. 48 (1939)
Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat, Op. 50 (1939–44)
Echoes of the Theatre, Op. 60 (mid-1940s)
Romantic Episodes, Op. 88 (1962)
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Catalogue No: TOCC0186EAN/UPC: 5060113441867Release Date: 02.12.2013Composer: Anatoly Alexandrov Artists: Kyung-Ah Noh
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Philip R Buttall :
“…[Ballade] While there are fleeting allusions to Medtner and Skryabin, for example, in the expansive use of chromaticism, this is music with a distinct and individual voice, and which makes it the more tantalizing. The Four Narratives do suggest Medtner, who also favoured the story-telling aspect in his piano works, although Alexandrov’s language is more advanced. …The Echoes of the Theatre once more demonstrate the wide expressive range of Alexandrov’s writing, and his knack for so-effective musical characterisation. The opening Aria is a gorgeous romantic creation, while the Galliarde and Pavane mixes almost Ravel-like writing with genuine antiquity. …[Romantic Episodes] The jewel in this particular crown would seem to be the sixth piece – dedicated to the composer’s wife – such a vivid portrait of a singer singing to piano accompaniment. It is undoubtedly one of the playing highlights on the disc. The CD ends most effectively with Tempestoso e maestoso, a stunning virtuoso piece. …Kyung-Ah Noh does a splendid job throughout. Technically unflawed, she plays with immense power when called for, but is equally able to command the subtlest ‘pianissimo’. She has a real empathy for the style, and certainly as a musical ambassador for this underrated composer, Toccata Classics has come up with a truly first-rate and well-qualified exponent. The piano affords all the necessary depth of tone at the bass end, with glittering clarity in the treble register, while the recording itself has faithfully captured every nuance and dynamic to perfection.” MusicWeb International
James Harrington :
“…Given Noh’s technical and musical skills, along with her clear affinity for this music, we have a strong beginning to the projected complete piano music of Alexandrov. …I enjoyed everything here, especially the Echoes of the Theatre; ‘Galliarde and Pavana’, ‘Chorale and Polka’, ‘Dances in the Square and Siciliana’ are some of the movements. These draw easy comparisons with Shostakovich, just as the Ballade and Romantic Episodes draw on styles I associate with Rachmaninoff and early Scriabin. The Narratives and Sonata show Prokofieff’s influence. Alexandrov still manages some very nice original touches, and Noh’s clear and often very exciting playing kept my interest over many hearings. As with all of the recent Toccata discs that have come my way, the sound is top notch and the booklet is well written and informative.” American Record Guide
Seth Blacklock :
This is music of real distinction. Alexandrov’s late-Romantic soundworld, conjured in most of these pieces, is very attractive indeed and would appeal especially to lovers of the piano music of other great Russian pianist-composers like Skryabin, Rachmaninov and Medtner, elements of whose music can be traced in the expressive fire, impressionistic poetry and melancholy retrospection of Alexandrov’s language. The opening Ballade – a work of real drama and vibrant colouring, and showing off Alexandrov in the best possible light from the outset – is a powerful opener and immediately shows off the pianist’s impressive command of her instrument. We hear echoes of Medtner in the first notes of the Piano Sonata and Rachmaninovian introspection and reminiscence in the first notes of the beautiful ‘Aria’ from Echoes of the Theatre. Another fine example of the excitement that Alexandrov generates is in the final movement from the Romantic Episodes, which betrays the influence, again, of Skryabin. It is incredible that Alexandrov’s piano music is so little known; it would programme so well in concert, as this well-balanced disc shows. The young pianist, Kyung-Ah Noh, is one to watch out for. Her technique, command of colouring and tone, and characterisation of each work here is highly impressive. For me, the recorded sound is ideal, where one can get a good sense of the sonorities inherent in the music, where the music has space to breathe around the instrument. Very highly recommended.
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