ANTON BATAGOV (b.1965): Selected Letters of Sergei Rachmaninov - A Piano Cycle.
Catalogue Number: 05T081
Reference: MEL CD 10 02548
Description: The premise on which this large (79-minute) cycle of pieces is based is that Rachmaninov's reputation was belatedly rehabilitated when composers (some of them anyway) cast off the shackles of avant-gardism that had led to his being regarded as hopelessly old-fashioned in the decades following his death, and embraced tonality and melody again. So Batagov, a post-minimalist composer-pianist, conceived the idea of the spirit of Rachmaninov in communion with an array of contemporary minimalists and post-minimalists (eight in all, plus Batagov's prelude and postlude). As entertaining, highly approachable (and, necessarily tonal) pastiches, they are very well done. Thorough familiarity with Rachmaninov's output and the styles of his 'correspondents' adds to the depth, breadth and humor of the pieces, but is not essential. So we have references to the concerti, preludes and other works, if not exactly in the style of then cleverly referencing, Glass' arpeggii, Pärt's tintinnabulations (bell sounds abound throughout the work, for obvious reasons), Martynov's chant and Renaissance polyphony-inflected 'spiritual minimalism', Brian Eno's ambient textures, and so on. Paganini's 24th Caprice after Wim Mertens alone is worth the price of admission. Thoroughly enjoyable. Anton Batagov (piano).