Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) is regarded as 'the father of Ukrainian classical music'. As did Bartók later in Hungary, he went out into the field, listened to what the people were singing and fashioned an individual musical language that brought together the styles of Chopin and Liszt and the essence of Ukrainian folksong. This first CD of his piano music reveals a voice, long forgotten, of extraordinary immediacy and appeal.
Arthur Greene, piano
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Catalogue No: TOCC0287EAN/UPC: 5060113442871Release Date: 10.03.2015Composer: Mykola Lysenko Artists: Arthur Greene
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James Harrington :
“… Lysenko’s role in discovering, notating and using ethnic Ukrainian music go beyond what Liszt and Brahms did with Hungarian folk tunes and moves much closer to the kind of work Bartok would be noted for many years in the future. Still, Lysenko makes use of some of the stylistic traits in Liszt’s rhapsodies, especially the evocation of a cimbalom—a folk instrument common to both Hungary and Ukraine.
Greene matches his superior pianism with a detailed booklet essay. Both the biographical information and the musical analysis complement the fascinating pieces here. It is hard not to refer to these compositions as Russian since the stylistic similarities with, say, Balakirev are obvious. The ghost of Chopin hovers over Lysenko’s Nocturnes. The big Rhapsody (1875) is the major work in Lysenko’s oeuvre and worthy to be included in any recital. This is real virtuoso stuff—again like Balakirev (parts of Islamey).
The rest of this collection is made up of more modest pieces, and the technical requirements are more manageable. All are performances of great detail and finesse. …
This release is Volume 1, so we can hope for more. All of the Toccata releases that have come my way uncover unknown piano treasures. They also keep finding excellent pianists like Greene, willing to immerse themselves in obscure repertoire and achieving masterly results. ” —American Record Guide, 08 September 2015
Myron Silberstein :
“Mykola Lysenko was a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov and Carl Reinecke. He was also a Ukrainian patriot and an ethnomusicologist who did for Ukrainian folk music what Bartók and Kodály did for Hungarian folk music. Arthur Greene’s recording of Lysenko’s piano music (the first of a multi-volume series) offers Lysenko a superb introduction to Western listeners. The music is lavishly expressive and boasts a wide variety of pianistic effects evocative of Ukrainian folk instruments. Greene is a first-rate pianist who has enjoyed a long, distinguished career. Would that all overlooked composers should be revived with such expert, discerning musicianship!” —Fanfare Magazine, Want List of Myron Silberstein, November/December 2015
John Bell Young :
“Indeed, charming is the entirely appropriate way to describe this fetching recording of Arthur Greene, a most intelligent and elegant pianist. … Greene delivers readings at once suave, warm and persuasive. On the whole, Lysenko … was a deft and imaginative craftsman given to a rhetorical sensibility.
From that perspective, Lysenko was nothing if not a shrewd and uncommonly gifted musical interlocutor, whose elaborately spun and intricately textured confections are more quizzical than ponderous. … fascinating recital…
Certainly, it is the evocation of ephemeral states of mind, which give sanctuary to passing thoughts, that distinguishes Lysenko from other composers of his era.” —Fanfare Magazine, November/December 2015
“I am perpetually astonished by how much first-rate music has fallen through the cracks. I had not heard of Mykola Lysenko (1842–1912) before receiving my review copy of this disc. Without a doubt, I was by no means alone in that ignorance, and that’s a shame. The works on this disc show Lysenko to have been an enormously talented composer whose writing indicates a solid mastery of Romantic techniques and aesthetics while displaying a thoroughly individual voice. … the Three Esquisses, written around the turn of the 20th century, were perhaps my favorite works on the disc. Miniature powerhouses, each under two minutes long, these pieces display a tremendous depth of passion and an extraordinary sense of pianism. They are every bit as good as the miniatures of Rachmaninoff or Scriabin, and deserve a place on the concert stage. This recital is a most welcome find, recorded in ideal concert sound. It will remain in my listening rotation for some time.” —Fanfare Magazine, November/December 2015
Huntley Dent :
“Lysenko’s melodies are very evocative; they elide from being actual Ukrainian tunes into ones he invented himself. … This is essentially vocal music, sometimes with strumming accompaniments, that the composer doesn’t stray from very far. Its beauty and sincerity is evident everywhere, and Greene’s expressive, artistic playing highlights those qualities. … This highly recommendable disc is just one in Toccata Classics’ extensive project of recording the music of unknown composers—the booklet invites listeners to join the Toccata Discovery Club for more. Greene, who teaches at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, gives us a strong incentive to do just that.” —Fanfare Magazine, November/December 2015
Daniel Morrison :
“Lysenko’s piano writing is consistently engaging and idiomatic, with abundant melodic interest and eloquent expressivity. … most of the music on this disc … does call for sensitive, nuanced, expressive playing, and with his clear, precise, and even fingering, his eloquent suspensions and tasteful rubato, his perfectly weighted touch and ideal balance between left and right hands, Greene supplies all of those qualities in abundance. … The sound quality of this release is very good, with clear, well-defined piano tone. … Lysenko is clearly a significant discovery. I look forward to the next installment in Toccata’s coverage of his piano music. In the meantime, the present release is to be warmly welcomed.” —Fanfare Magazine, November/December 2015
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