Ornstein: Piano Music, Volume 1
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Leo Ornstein: Piano Music, Volume One

Catalogue Number: TOCC0141
EAN: 5060113441416
Release Date: 27 August 2012
Duration: 71:40

Four Impromptus, S300A
Piano Sonata No. 4, S360
In the Country, S63
Cossack Impressions, S55

Arsentiy Kharitonov, piano

The Russian-born American composer Leo Ornstein (1893–2002) lived long enough – an astonishing 109 years – to see his music both fall into and re-emerge from obscurity. His earliest surviving work dates from around 1905; his last was composed in 1990. Not surprisingly, his music embraces a range of styles, ranging on this first CD – in the first extended series devoted to his piano works – from the atmospheric impressionism of the Four Impromptus via the fiery virtuosity of the Fourth Piano Sonata to the Rachmaninov-like Romanticism of the Cossack Impressions and In the Country.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
1-4 Four Impromptus, S300A (1950s–76)

Leo Ornstein, composer
Arsentiy Kharitonov, piano

(first recording)
1 No. 1 Moderato 5:14 play
2 No. 2 Epitaph: Moderato espressivo 3:48 play
3 No. 3 An Interlude: Andante 4:34 play
4 No. 4 A Bit of Nostalgia: Moderato 3:26 play
5-8 Piano Sonata No. 4, S360 (c. 1918)

Leo Ornstein, composer
Arsentiy Kharitonov, piano
5 I Moderato con moto 5:21 play
6 II Semplice 5:51 play
7 III Lento 4:04 play
8 IV Vivo 7:00 play
9-13 In the Country, S63 (1924)

Leo Ornstein, composer
Arsentiy Kharitonov, piano

(first recording)
9 No. 1 The Gypsy Lament: Moderato con moto 1:28 play
10 No. 2 The Old Dungeon: Andante misterioso 1:51 play
11 No. 3 A Fairy Dance: Tempo rubato 1:08 play
12 No. 4 The Cathedral Bells and the Choir: Moderato non troppo 1:46 play
13 No. 5 The Merry-Go-Round: Vivo e ritmico 0:53 play
14-26 Cossack Impressions, S55 (c. 1914)

Leo Ornstein, composer
Arsentiy Kharitonov, piano

(first recording)
14 No. 1 Evening Song: Maestoso 3:11 play
15 No. 2 Maidens at the Fountain: Andante comodo rubato 2:06 play
16 No. 3 Mazurka: Con vivo 1:03 play
17 No. 4 Moonlight in the Mountains: Andante amabile 2:04 play
18 No. 5 Grief: Moderato con tristezza 2:12 play
19 No. 6 The Waltz: Tempo di Valse 1:27 play
20 No. 7 The Nocturne: Lento 1:40 play
21 No. 8 At Dawn: Impazientemente 2:00 play
22 No. 9 The Dance: Allegretto con spirito 1:37 play
23 No. 10 The Love Song: Andante con sentimento 1:31 play
24 No. 11 The March: Tempo alla marcia 1:35 play
25 No. 12 Méditation: Languido 2:11 play
26 No. 13 At the Festival: Allegro molto 2:39 play


Leo Ornstein, about age 40

Leo Ornstein, composer

Arsentiy Kharitonov

Arsentiy Kharitonov, piano


Gorgeously close and warm

Arsentiy Kharitonov seems fully in command of the technical and emotional demands and the sound is nothing short of gorgeously close and warm.

In splendid Toccata style Malcolm Macdonald contributes a substantial and highly readable liner note.

[…] this slice through a largely unexplored catalogue presents Ornstein as a master of Russian romance both grand and gentle.

Rob Barnett MusicWeb International 13th January 2013

Total commitment and understanding

[…] the young Russian pianist (recorded in Texas) is more than capable of dealing with Ornstein’s technical demands. Moreover, he interprets the music with total commitment and understanding, and is beautifully recorded. This is a distinguished and fascinating start to what should prove to be an important series of recordings.



2 comments – add a comment

My father’s piano music varies widely in character, and much of it makes heavy demands on the performer – demands not only for speed and accuracy of technique, but also for musical understanding in order that the often complex structure of the music be suitably illuminated. The two recent Toccata CDs of my father’s piano music by Arsentiy Kharitonov exhibit not only Kharitonov’s full technical mastery of the material, but also his deep understanding of it.

A number of my father’s early works from the 1910–1920 era are regarded as radical and highly innovative, while much of the rest of his music is often dismissed as less interesting and primarily neo-romantic in nature. That judgment, however, has been informed by little familiarity with the full spectrum of his later compositions in which the innovation is far more subtle than the often blatant dissonance of the earlier works.

Kharitonov’s first CD of my father’s music consisted of lyrical works that, for the most part, fitted comfortably within the bounds of the above image. The 4th Piano Sonata, which had been previously recorded by others, exposed Kharitonov’s prodigious technical ability, but nothing on that CD violated the neo-romantic myth. By contrast, the latest Kharitonov CD explores a set of seventeen waltzes, composed over a period of several decades, most of which have never before been heard in public. They manifest the full range of styles of his later years, and while some are indeed firmly rooted in the lyricism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, others go well beyond that and delve into highly sophisticated complex rhythmic and harmonic material. It is the stunning contrasts that give Kharitonov’s recordings so much force as he invests each piece with its own individual character – no mean task given their enormous diversity and technical difficulty.

Rarely do I hear playing, especially of my father’s music, that sounds to me really “correct” – the way I think he himself would have played it. I had that experience listening to Marc-André Hamelin’s recording of my father’s 8th Piano Sonata. Kharitonov’s recordings seem equally right throughout, and I find that I simply cannot stop listening to the waltzes over and over again. This is no doubt in part because the musical material itself is so gripping, but it is also because Kharitonov’s tempos and phrasing fit the music so perfectly that nothing stands between the listener and the music itself.

Severo Ornstein 17 May 2013

Very excited by the prospect of future Toccata releases of works by this centenarian! And Kharitonov performs the music featured in this recording with great panache and command. Well done!

Luke Pratt 7 March 2013