SAMUIL FEINBERG (1890-1962): Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 20, Fantasia No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 9, Études in E Flat, Op. 11/1 & in F Minor, Op. 11/4, Préludes in A Minor, Op. 8/2 & in E Flat, Op. 8/4, 3 Préludes, Op. 15, Berceuse, Op. 19a, Album for Children, The Dream.

Catalogue Number: 03J002

Label: Altarus

Reference: AIR-CD-9034

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: This concerto, long thought lost, turns out to be one of the great forgotten masterpieces of the early Soviet era. Feinberg performed the piece twice in the 1930s and it was then misplaced, to be rediscovered by the present soloist in the 1990s. This live 1998 recording is the work's only other performance. Beginning unassumingly, diffidently, with a statement of the principal theme that pervades the entire piece, the concerto rapidly darkens in mood and embarks on a tragic, epic journey of over a half-hour's duration, alternating moods of uneasy tranquility, devastating despair and apocalyptic vehemence. After trying out elements of all three, the music abruptly plummets to the depths in one of Feinberg's most memorable inspirations; a vast, inexorable, nightmarish cortège in which the piano - reduced to a concertante, yet fiendishly difficult role - spasms like a sparking dynamo trapped within a huge, decaying yet implacable machine. This subsides into a funeral march of the utmost bleakness, which Feinberg adapted and extended from his formally odd, highly inventive third sonata, the gloom alleviated by reconciliatory passages for the orchestra. Dynamic, driven music follows, leading via a brittle, angry fugato to the work's explosive cadenzas, before dying away into a semblance of calm before the final climax, suggesting victory, though hard-won. Perhaps surprisingly, as Feinberg is usually thought of as a successor to Scriabin, the influence of Busoni is very strong; there is more than a little of Doktor Faust in both the atmosphere and musical phrase-shaping of the piece, and of Busoni's own concerto in the conflict between concertante writing and extreme virtuosity of the solo part. The solo works - several also receiving their world première recordings - fascinatingly chart Feinberg's compositional career. Pre-eminent is the extraordinary Fantasia, a haunted and violent work from 1919. With the passage of time the Scriabin influence grows and recedes, and the later pieces - a beautiful, tragic song transcription from the 1940s and the enigmatic, aphoristic Children's Album - the composer's penultimate work, unpublished in his lifetime - betray an understated, scholarly melancholy, far removed from the rumors of impending Armageddon present in the earlier works, yet no less telling on a personal level. A revealing and important release for our ongoing reappraisal of this major figure. NOTE: This recording was originally intended as part of the BIS Feinberg series. Christophe Sirodeau (piano), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam.

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