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Shostakovich and Pupils, Vol. 1

Shostakovich and Pupils, Vol. 1

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The first volume in an adventurous new series juxtaposing the piano music of Shostakovich with his most talented pupils. As a teacher at the Moscow Conservatoire for many years, Shostakovich trained a generation of the Soviet Union’s most talented composers. He was renowned for a sharp ear and kindly criticism which immediately focused its attention on areas of weakness in a score without requiring that his pupils follow his own path. Indeed, all three of the younger composers here demonstrate the individuality of their own voice. Least known of them now is German Galynin (1922-1966) whose originality caused him to suffer far more than his teacher from the effects of Zhdanov’s famous ‘purge’ of 1948 directed towards composers and against modernist tendencies in music. In 1951, the year in which he paradoxically obtained the Stalin Prize for his Epic Poem on Russian Themes, Galynin began suffering from schizophrenia that he was admitted to an asylum, and continued to received psychiatric care for the rest of his short life. He wrote this five-movement Suite in 1945, while still a student at the Conservatoire, and it alternates somewhat prophetically between moods of mania and melancholy.

Shostakovich himself cited Alemdar Karamanov (1934-2007) as one of the most original composers of his time. Ukrainian born but of Turkish parentage, he studied in Moscow before returning to Crimea, converting to Christianity and thus consigning himself to obscurity at the time, and his later music shares an experimental, visionary quality with contemporary pioneers such as Schnittke, Denisov and Gubaidulina. The Variations for piano (1962) belong to the last phase of his Moscow period.

The career of Boris Tchaikovsky (1925-1996) proceeded along smoother lines, not least because his maturity coincided with the period of the Thaw which granted artists greater freedom of expression. The single-movement Sonatina from 1946 is again a student work, albeit a highly talented and disciplined one, with the kind of thorough-going understanding of Classical form which Shostakovich evidently instilled in and expected from his students.

Fernanda Damiano juxtaposes these pianistic rarities with several pieces which demonstrate the breadth of style and confidence of artistic personality that made Shostakovich stand out from his contemporaries. Alongside the fleet-fingered brilliance of the Three Fantastic Dances and the Polka from his ballet The Golden Age, she plays a trio of Preludes and Fugues (Nos. 1, 7 & 24) from the collection he wrote for Tatiana Nikolaeva, another pupil, in 1950-51.
Fernanda Damiano made her recorded debut on Brilliant Classics (96346) with a unique collection of Galuppi sonatas in romantically pianistic editions by Giocomo Benvenuti. ‘a supremely talented 20-something’ according to Fanfare magazine, she moves ‘well beyond even Benvenuti’s score with her imaginative rubato and resourceful dynamic play. Add to this her deft touch … her fine control of vertical balances, and her attention to the music’s syncopation and its rhythmic quirks, this promises to be a first-rate disc.’

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Piano Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5029365103015
    • Item Number: PCL10301