Release Date-Spring 2016
RBB Saal 3, Berlin Germany
Poulenc 3 Novelettes
Satie 3 Gymnopédies
Poulenc Les soirées de Nazelles
L'Album des Six
-Prelude (by Auric)
-Romance sans Paroles (by Durey)
-Sarabande (by Honegger)
-Mazurka (by Milhaud)
-Valse (by Poulenc)
-Pastorale (by Taillferre)
Honegger Souvenir de Chopin
"above all do not analyze my music… love it! " Francois Poulenc
My first encounter with Poulenc's music was when I was asked to play his violin sonata several years ago. I was completely captivated by this music- exquisite melody lines were suddenly interrupted by abrupt inserts of ironic or humorous outbursts, at times even grotesque. I performed this work repeatedly over the last years. His music gave me almost a feeling of shock, it was like meeting Picasso's painting for the first time after seeing series of works by Monet and Renoir in a room at an art exhibition. The violin sonata gave me a taste to explore further into the background of Poulenc's music and his time in Paris. I immediately decided to explore his solo piano music for my new recording project.
Poulenc was mainly a self-taught composer and his style was original. It is said that he hated rubato. In his music Poulenc
indicates frequently the marking, "sans rubato" (without rubato). It's almost humorous to see in most tempting melodic sections of the piece, Poulenc indicates strictly not to use rubato. This gives his music an unique originality. Discovering Poulenc's compositions led me also to explore other composers of the group named Les Six and opened doors for me to see an absolutely fascinating world of Paris in the 1920s.
In 1920 Jean Cocteau and Eric Satie founded the group Le Six, a group of six young Parisian composers selected to represent the music opposing impressionistic and Wagnerian music. Their music had hints of popular idioms of the time-cafe music, jazz, voudeville, circus, Moulin Rouge, everything that Paris in the 20s offered. The composers in the group were Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis Durey and Germaine Tailleferre. The group had already began to get together in 1918 and prior to the official announcement in 1920, Satie introduced each of the six musicians to the audience, describing their individual talents. However the group did not last long. Louis Durey was the first to leave the group, there were basic differences among the composers opinions. On five occasions spread over thirty-two years, at least some members of the group worked together on a piece. L'Album des Six, which I recorded for this CD is the only work in which all six composers collaborated.
1920s Paris was dazzling. The middle class could finally have access to leisure the same as wealthy people. The Parisians went out often; they went to Music-hall shows, operettas, theatre, circus, but also to the cinema which was becoming more and more popular. For woman, their status changed after the war. They were not looked upon as housewife anymore, they had the freedom to express their fashion-they could wear makeup, perfume and smoke in public. They could dress in accordance with their liking. Thin silhouettes were fashionable as well as short dresses, high heels and bare legs. Women abandoned corsets and big hats that symbolized the pre-war reserve. Women of the 1920’s wanted to get rid of the constraints and remain elegant, what was made possible by the greatest fashion designers of the time, like Jeanne
Lanvin and Coco Chanel.
"Enough of clouds, waves, aquariums, water-sprites and nocturnal scents; what we need is
a music of the earth, everyday music . . . music one can live in like a house." - Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau was a writer, playwright and filmmaker. He was an important figure in Paris cultural scene at that time particularly because of his circle of friends and associates who were influential figures. Those included Coco Chanel, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Igor Stravinsky and Eric Satie. Cocteau was a master at bringing people and ideas together. Cocteau frequently dined on Saturday evening with the six young composers of Les Six. After dinner the Saturday night they would go to the Médrano Circus to enjoy the mime shows of the Fratellini brothers. The evening would end at Darius Milhaud's or the Gaya Bar, where they listened to Jean Wiéner play "negro music." Cocteau would read his latest poems while Milhaud and Auric, joined by Arthur Rubinstein, played a six-handed version of Milhaud's Le Boeuf sur le toit.
We, the classical musicians today are constantly looking to narrow the gap between today’s trend and classical music. In attempt to appeal classical music to the younger generation, we bring it to night clubs and bars. Cross-over has become increasingly popular too. As I prepared for this CD recording, I started to realize that what we are doing today was in fact already challenged by these courageous Parisian composers and artists almost 100 years ago.
My message to the audience for this album is not an academic one, but to share my journey. For me this recording project was like discovering gems in the jewelery box. This selection of music brought me vivid images of what Paris must have been like at that time: the glamourous nigh life, the lights, the noise in the city and even the scent of the perfume. I hope that you can experience this journey with me.
The Belyayev Project
Release Date-Spring 2013
Recorded-April and November 2012
RBB Saal 3, Berlin Germany
Rimsky-Korsakov Piano Trio in c minor
Glazunov Grand Adagio from 'Raymonda' for Violin and Piano
Rimsky-Korsakov/Heifetz The fight of the Bumblebee
Glazunov/Blumenfeld Concert Waltz Op.47
Liadov Barcarolle Op.44
Blumenfeld Etude 'Sur Mer' Op.31-2
Total time: 73:50
About Mitrofan Belyayev
Mitrofan Belyayev was born in 1836 is in St-Petersburg. As a owner of large wood dealership enterprise, he was a music publisher and played viola for many years in the amateur string quartet.
Belyayev was dedicated to his contemporary St-Petersburg composers as patron, as well as promoting and spreading Russian music outside of Russia.
Commonly Belyayev spelled “Belaieff' maybe more familiar. In 1885 Belyayev created the publishing house “M.P. Belaieff” in Leipzig. The purpose of the publishing house was to secure international copyrights to Russian composers. Belyayev published the works at his own expense.
Belyayev 's inspiration to have his own publishing house
In 1882 Belyayev met 17-year old Alexander Glazunov and became his patron. He supported Glazunov by publishing all his new works through Belaieff edition. Meeting
Glazunov is said to be the key event in which Belyayev decided to create his own publishing house.
Who were the St-Petersburg musicians supported by Belyayev?
Belyayev is also the founder of Belyayev circle, a society of musicians who met in St-Petersburg between 1885-1908. Members of this circle include Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov, Glazunov among others. He also hosted “quartet Fridays” at his home in St-Petersburg. This event was frequently visited by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Later many other composers sought support from Belayaev. In order to select which composers to assist with money, Belyayev set up an advisory council made up of Glazunov, Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov. They were given rights to select the composers who they considered to deserve patronage and public attention through Belyayev's support.
The Belyayev Project
I was fascinated by the figure, M. Belyayev and the Belaieff edition which can be found in music stores and libraries across the world to the present day. Composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov are now very familiar to the general public, but the profile of the man who helped these composers to gain their fame internationally is not a commonly known fact.
Rimsky-Korsakov piano trio, I discovered through the recording of David Oistrakh trio. Purely from curiosity I searched the catalogue of Belaieff edition and came across number of beautiful works by Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov and Blumenfeld. Most of these works are not commonly performed, particularly the short piano pieces.I hope this recording brings attention to the fascinating compositions, as well as attention to Mitrofan Belyayev.
Zoltan Kodaly Works for Piano Solo
Release Date-September 2011
RBB Saal 3, Berlin Germany
Naxos Music Library (Japanese)
I was introduced to the music of Kodaly by my late teacher György Sebök. During my studies with him for 4 and a half years, I had the privelage to hear and play the music of Zoltan Kodaly. Although I was not as familiar with Kodaly's music as Bartok's but I had some education in Kodaly method growing up in the UK. The name was not unfamiliar and I was intrigued by his music.
The piano works are less played compared to the orchestra, choral works as well as the sonata for cello-I took the time to look through various works and it took several years to come up with the works on the CD.
About György Sebök (from the CD notes)
I met Mr Sebök when I was 18. For the next 4 years he was my teacher, life and inspiration.
I moved to Bloomington Indiana from London to study with him at Indiana University. The change of environment was, rather extreme after growing up in the busy European city. Very quickly Mr Sebök’s teaching studio became the place where I felt at home. It was a piece of Europe in a big American university with a small dark lamp and the room was always filled with the smell of cigarette smoke.
I was his youngest student at the time and he often told me about the tough education he received at my age at the Liszt Academy with his teachers Kodaly and Weiner. During my studies he frequently explained the Hungarian music as being a language, and introduced me to a new area of understanding for music of Bartok and Kodaly. He said I cannot ‚learn’ or ‚try to understand’ their music but have to become their music.... He often spoke to me in Hungarian although I did not understand a word and played me simple folk music from various regions. He also described the Hungarian landscapes, the people, the food, and the weather. The images were beautiful,
I finally visited Hungary in 2010 for the first time.
One day he told me a story about Bartok. 42 years after his death his ashes were returned to Hungary and were taken on the train traveling across Hungary. At every village there was a choir singing the traditional song of its village. Some ashes would be shed at each of these stops until the train completed its journey across the country.
Mr Sebok added that at age of 77 he has done everything he dreamed of but one thing he missed was his homeland, and he was happy for Bartok that the ashes were returned home after so many years.
A few weeks later on November 14thh 1999 Mr Sebök passed way. He was on tour in Europe and made an early return to Bloomington due to illlnes. It all happned suddenly and nobody
was ready for his departure. It felt like music had stopped in Bloomington.
After a very long time, the sadness turned into gratefulness and happiness that my life was touched by such musician.
On his 75th birthday, he gave a speech. In this speech he said that his job as a teacher is to light the candles and whether or not the candles stay lit or not he cannot know or decide.
Recording this CD of Kodaly’s piano works is for me filled memories and thoughts I had over the years about Mr Sebök.
I’m most grateful for the Hänssler Label and RBB to make this production possible.