IGOR RAYKHELSON (b.1961): Piano and Chamber Music, Vol. 2 - Piano Trio No. 2 in B Minor, Piano Quartet in G Sharp Minor “Homage to Robert Schumann”, Melodia for Violin and Piano, 5 Short Pieces for Piano).
Catalogue Number: 05U072
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0485
Description: Raykhelson's background was in both jazz and concert music, with the latter increasingly in the ascendant in the past several decades, as he has mastered a compelling brand of neo-Romanticism, as full-blooded and big-boned as one might wish, unabashedly tonal but full of original expression and emotion. The splendid Piano Trio No.2 is a case in point. The first movement is prefaced by a foreboding introduction, while the movement proper is a modified sonata form with the strongly delineated themes and dramatic conflicts that this implies. The following movement is an intriguing “scherzo in reverse”, with the framing sections comprising emotionally charged slow movements in triple time, while the central episode has the playful, fleet character of a scherzo. The powerful and determined finale further develops the first movement subjects, suddenly and provocatively sidestepping via a triplet figure into a reminiscence of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata, which then becomes an episode in its own right. The music attempts to build an impressive peroration, but just as the conclusion seems inevitable the mysterious opening material returns. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as is often stated, then the shade of Schumann must be blushing. The Piano Quartet far transcends pastiche; it really is an exercise in "If I were Schumann, how would I write this?". Raykhelson injects his own personality at key moments - the bridge passage into the last movement main theme's final recapitulation, for instance - but in essence, this is a piece for people who don’t think Schumann wrote enough chamber music. The work is in traditional four-movement form, on a large scale at over half an hour. Only the varied character piano Pieces here are explicitly jazz-inflected, and even that is only some jazz and blues chords coloring the rather Chopinesque Romantic vocabulary, while the little Melodia is pure neo-Romanticism. Marc Bouchkov, Ekaterina Astashova (violins), Andrei Usov (viola), Alexander Kniazev (cello), Konstantin Lifschitz (piano).