A. Tcherepnin: Piano Music 1913–61
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Alexander Tcherepnin: Piano Music 1913–61

Catalogue Number: TOCC0079
EAN: 5060113440792
Release Date: 1 October 2012
Duration: 79:45

Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22
Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 94
Quatre Préludes Nostalgiques, Op. 23
Prelude, Op. 85, No. 9
Moment Musical
Petite Suite, Op. 6
Rondo à la Russe
Entretiens, Op. 46
Scherzo, Op. 3
Expressions, Op. 81
La Quatrième

Alexander Tcherepnin, piano
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

This unusual album begins with archival recordings, in excellent sound, of the Russian-born composer-pianist Alexander Tcherepnin (1899–1977) playing some of his most memorable piano music. The early Sonata No. 1 (1918–19) is a brilliant, virtuosic study in dramatic Slavic romanticism; the atmospheric late Sonata No. 2 (1961), never commercially recorded by the composer, stands as a paragon of elegant modernism in continuous thematic evolution. The second part of the CD, performed by the Russian pianist Mikhail Shilyaev, presents a selection of attractive, rarely heard works from various periods in Tcherepnin's career, further illustrating his Prokofiev-like fondness for spiky humour, pungent harmony and crisp melody.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
1-4 Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 (1918–19)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer, piano
1 I. Allegro commodo 7:19 play
2 II. Andante 2:54 play
3 III. Allegro 2:01 play
4 IV. Grave 2:33 play
5-7 Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 94 (1961)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer, piano
5 I. Lento; Animato; Lento; Animato; Lento 4:27 play
6 II. Andantino 2:02 play
7 III. Animato 3:21 play
8-11 Quatre Préludes Nostalgiques, Op. 23 (1922)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer, piano
8 I. Lento 2:35 play
9 II. Allegretto 0:34 play
10 III. Tempestuoso 0:46 play
11 IV. Con dolore, molto sostenuto 2:53 play
12 Prelude, Op. 85, No. 9 (1953)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer, piano
1:27 play
13 Moment Musical (1913)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
1:59 play
14-19 Petite Suite, Op. 6 (1918–19)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
14 No. 1 March 1:13 play
15 No. 2 Song without Words 1:42 play
16 No. 3 Berceuse 1:34 play
17 No. 4 Scherzo 1:53 play
18 No. 5 Badinage 0:55 play
19 No. 6 Humoresque 1:17 play
20 Rondo à la Russe (c. 1946)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
2:39 play
21-30 Entretiens, Op. 46 (1920–30)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
21 No. 1 Lento 1:43 play
22 No. 2 Animato 0:26 play
23 No. 3 Moderato 1:36 play
24 No. 4 Allegretto 1:13 play
25 No. 5 Recitando 0:45 play
26 No. 6 Animato 0:50 play
27 No. 7 Moderato 0:58 play
28 No. 8 Animato 0:49 play
29 No. 9 Grave 3:00 play
30 No. 10 Allegretto 0:56 play
31 Polka (1944)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
1:59 play
32 Scherzo, Op. 3 (1917)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
3:29 play
33-42 Expressions, Op. 81 (1951)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano
33 No. 1 Entrance 0:46 play
34 No. 2 The Hour of Death 2:13 play
35 No. 3 Caprice 1:07 play
36 No. 4 The Silly Story of the White Oxen 0:56 play
37 No. 5 Thief in the Night 0:46 play
38 No. 6 At the Fair 1:08 play
39 No. 7 Barcarolle 3:03 play
40 No. 8 Blind Man’s Bluff 0:47 play
41 No. 9 At Dawn 1:44 play
42 No. 10 Exit 0:57 play
43 La Quatrième (1948–49)

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer
Mikhail Shilyaev, piano

(first recording)
2:30 play


Alexander Tcherepnin

Alexander Tcherepnin, composer, piano

Mikhail Shilyaev

Mikhail Shilyaev, piano


A truly fascinating and prolific composer

As the only composer to have done significant work in all 5 UN Security Council nations – Russia, Britain, France, China and the USA - it is unsurprising that Willi Reich, in his biography called Alexander Tcherepnin a ‘musical citizen of the world’. Several discs of his music have been released this year which allow appraisal of a truly fascinating and prolific composer.

Piano Sonata No. 1 began life as No. 14 but Tcherepnin destroyed vast amounts of his juvenilia; not that you’d ever guess that this sonata was written by someone so young it is so incredibly self assured, an assurance which will have come from all the works he had previously composed. It is a fabulously rich piece of writing with a theme that emerges in the first movement that would have been worthy of Liszt. This sonata and the Op. 85 piece are played by the composer himself showing his complete mastery of the instrument both technically and compositionally. His writing demands great pianistic power which is amply demonstrated in the third movement for example, in which notes tumble over each other in rapid succession. The final movement, marked grave is suitably sober in mood to complete this marvellous work. Incredible as it may seem for such a prolific composer his second sonata had to wait 42 years to be written. The first movement is fascinating, alternating between lento and animato while the second, marked andantino is wistfully beautiful. The final animato has the sonata finally disappear mid-phrase. The booklet notes explain how Tcherepnin’s suffering with tinnitus was put to “good” use in the sonata with the pitches D and E that vied with each other in his head competing as a frequently recurring motif in the sonata. His Quatre Préludes Nostalgiques from 1922 come next, the first of which creates an air of mystery. The second is a quiet interlude before the third’s tempestuoso lives up to its name. The last one is a mixture of sadness and grandeur. The final work on the disc played by the composer himself is a little 1½ minute cracker with almost all the notes coming from the piano’s lowest register.

At this point pianist Mikhail Shilyaev takes over showing how gently he can caress the keys which is what is required with the first of his contributions Moment Musical from 1913, when the composer was only 14, and is its first recording. From 1918 to 1919 we have another first recording, Tcherepnin’s Petite Suite. This is full of delights. Rondo à la Russe from 1946 is “Russian” as it is supposed to be but interestingly Tcherepnin otherwise rarely shows his origins in his music though sometimes he does remind one of Rachmaninov or Prokofiev. Entretiens composed over a ten year period from 1920 to 1930 is in ten parts, all of them showing the composer’s inventive flair. One of the recurring ideas in his music is the evocation of bells as with the final piece from the set. Tcherepnin enjoyed fun as much as being serious and this is amply demonstrated in the little Polka from 1944. Scherzo from 1917 has elements of both Prokofiev, Tcherepnin’s idol at the time, and Rachmaninov, though much harsher in sound to his lushness, though it begins that way. The set of 10 little pieces that together form Expressions, dating from 1951, are the only ones played by Shilyaev that are not first recordings and each bears a title rather than a tempo marking. At the Fair brings some Russian elements into play and I was reminded of Stravinsky. Barcarolle is a beautiful and delightful sounding piece and one of the longest on the disc at 3 minutes long; Tcherepnin had an amazing ability to exploit ideas within a tiny time-frame. La Quatrième from 1948-9, the last offering, is another first recording. It’s full of grandeur and the title is a reference to the Fourth Republic in France which heralded its post-war era following liberation. It received its première only in 1959 since it was part of a project by the publisher to have several compositions from immigrant composers of the École de Paris group in a collection that never materialised. The overall impression one is left with after hearing this disc and others of Tcherepnin’s music is the breadth of his inventiveness; there is never a dull moment and discovering his music has been one of the musical highlights for me this year.

As one would expect the tracks recorded this year sound fresher and crisper than those recorded by the composer in March 1965, though to have his own interpretations of those works is so valuable. Tcherepnin showed what a considerable pianist he was while Shilyaev amply shows his interpretive skills with that full range of moods and touches. This is vital for music that can range from a mere whisper to almost cataclysmic thunder.

The booklet notes by Benjamin Folkman are extremely well written, highly informative and contribute towards making the whole experience both enjoyable and memorable. If you have discovered the wonderful world of Tcherepnin’s piano music then this disc is a must for you and, if not, it is a perfect place to start to get to know this fascinating composer.

Steve Arloff MusicWeb International 13th January 2013

Played with compelling assurance

The Toccata Classics disc opens with archival recordings made by the composer in New York n March 1965 (produced by the composer Philip Ramey, a former Tcherepnin pupil and subject of an earlier Toccata Classics release) of the two sonatas, Préludes nostalgiques and the ninth of his Op. 85 Preludes. The performances are the most exciting of any under review here and have been remastered very finely under the auspices of the Tcherepnin Society. The greater part of the disc is made up of a deliciously varied selection of his smaller pieces (the earliest, the Moment musical of 1913, dating from his mid-teens) and sets of miniatures – the early Petite Suite (1918–19), Entretiens (1920–30) and 10 Expressions (1951) – all played with compelling assurance by Mikhail Shilyaev.

Guy Rickards International Piano January 2013

Warmly recommended

[…] Shilyaev renders both these miniatures and the larger sets of pieces with a fluency and panache that makes for diverting and also pleasurable listening, thus ensuring that these predominantly first recordings will not easily be surpassed, and is abetted by detailed and realistic piano sound. Those works taken into the studio by Tcherepnin are worth acquiring within a valuable twofer of his chamber and instrumental music, yet any gains in finesse are outweighed by the sheer spontaneity evident here. Benjamin Folkman (president of the Tcherepnin Society) contributes an insightful booklet note, and the disc can be warmly recommended as a showcase for a composer who seemed to – or, more to the point, should have had it all.

Richard Whitehouse International Record Review December 2012


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