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ARENSKY the COMPOSER



His Piano Concerto was written when Arensky the composer was barely 20 years old and just prior to his graduation from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory where he was a composition student of Rimsky-Korsakov.  Upon graduation be was appointed professor at the Moscow Conservatory where his students included Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Gretchaninov.

Among Arensky's major works are three operas, two symphonies, a violin concerto and three cantatas, but he is known today almost exclusively for his D minor Piano Trio, the first two of his Suites for Two Pianos, and this youthful Piano Concerto.

The concerto is a three movement work, beautifully melodic and skillfully constructed, with a good deal of the writing for the piano and orchestra very reminiscent of Chopin.  However the dominant influence on the work is that of Tchaikovsky who was to be the major influence on Arensky the composer throughout his life.  And therein lies the rub.  At a time when Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Prokofiev were laying waste to the world to which he belonged, Arensky's music was quickly forgotten.

The following performances of the Arensky Piano Concerto is a fine performance that I hope will go a long way to convincing you that this is indeed a work deserving of greater attention.

Perhaps his greatest work and also much deserving of frequent performance is the D minor piano trio, a magnificent example of Russian romantic chamber music.  It is beautiful and delightful, full of elegant melodies, and must be an absolute joy to play.  The performance by Anne Akiko Meyers, Bion Tsang and Anton Nel is gorgeous.  The slow movement is to die for, and I can't help wondering if a particular moment in the movement did not serve as inspiration to Schoenberg for a similar moment in Verklärte Nacht which was composed five years later.  And the Eileen Joyce recording is an amazing performance in a very different way.

The Quintet is also fine piece.  I had not heard it before this, and I must say my esteem for Arensky the composer increases with every full length work.

Following this are a number of works for solo piano, of which I would like to single out the 1925 recording by Ossip Gabrilowitsch of "Près de la mer".

I could not resist including Arensky's violin concerto at the very end.  It's an excellent piece and what a refreshingly pleasant surprise it would be to find it on a concert program.



Piano Concerto in F minor, Op 2


Grigory Ginzburg, Soviet pianist (1904-1961)
Sergei Gorchakov conducting the Soviet All-Union Radio Orchestra

recorded in 1948


i
 Allegro maestoso (beginning)




i Allegro maestoso (conclusion)




ii Andante con moto



iii Scherzo - Finale: Allegro molto




Arnold Kaplan, Soviet pianist (1919-1996)
Boris Khaikin conducting the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra

Allegro maestoso
11:37  ii Andante con moto
18:49  iii Scherzo - Finale: Allegro molto




Alexei Cherkasov, piano
Alexander Nekrasov conducting the URSS Central Television and All-Union Radio Symphony Orchestra




Sergey Koudriakov, piano
Naoto Otomo conducting Tokyo Symphony Orchestra

recorded in 2008


i
Allegro maestoso




ii Andante con moto



iii Scherzo - Finale: Allegro molto




Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra on Themes of Ryabinin, Op 48




Piano Trio 1 in D minor, Op 32
i Allegro moderato- ii Scherzo: Allegro molto- iii Elegia: Adagio - iv Finale: Allegro non troppo

Eileen Joyce (piano), Henri Temianka (violin), Antoni Sala (cello)

recorded in 1939




Piano Trio 1 in D minor, Op 32
i Allegro moderato- ii Scherzo: Allegro molto- iii Elegia: Adagio - iv Finale: Allegro non troppo

Anne Akiko Meyers, violin - Bion Tsang, cello - Anton Nel, piano

recorded in 2012




Piano Trio 1 in D minor, Op 32
iii Elegia: Adagio

Jerome Lowenthal, piano - Christaan Bor, violin - Nathaniel Rosen, cello

recorded in 1989




Piano Trio 1 in D minor, Op 32
iii Elegia: Adagio

Chung Trio (Myung-Whun Chung, piano - Kyung-Wha Chung, violin - Myung-Wha Chung, cello)

recorded in 1992




Piano Trio 2 in F minor, Op 73

New Arts Trio (Rebecca Penneys, piano - Yair Kless, violin - Arie Lipsky, cello)

recorded in 1997


i Allegro moderato



ii Romanza: Andante



iii Scherzo: Presto



iv Allegro non troppo




Piano Quintet in D major, Op 51

Ilona Prunyi (piano)


i Allegro Moderato



ii Variations, Andante



iii Scherzo: Allegro Vivace



iv Finale (Fuga): Allegro Moderato




Le Muguet "Ландыш", Op 38 ~2

Nor Trio (Nune Hakobyan, piano - Sarkis Karapetyan, violin - Andrei Sobchenko, saxophone)




Arensky  Serenade for Violin and Piano

Kathleen Parlow with an unidentified pianist

recorded in 1915




Etude in B minor, Op 19 ~1




"An der quelle", Op 46 ~1
Petite Ballade, Op 36 ~4

Dmitry Rachmanov, piano

recorded in 1998




4 "Près de la mer" from Six Esquisses for piano, Op 52

Ossip Gabrilowitsch, piano

recorded in 1925




Romance

Peter Brian Smith, piano

recorded in 2005




Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 54
i Allegro - ii Adagio non troppo - iii Tempo di Valse - iv Allegro

Aaron Rosand, violin
Louis de Froment conducting l'Orchestre de Radio Luxembourg

Recorded in 1973















For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.



And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse



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Or return to the Anton Arensky page



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