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NAUM SHTARKMAN
Soviet-Russian pianist (1927 - 2006)



Naum Shtarkman studied at the Moscow Conservatory where he was a disciple of Konstantin Igumnov until that great pianist's death in 1948. He continued his study on an informal basis with Sviatoslav Richter.  He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1949 and achieved success in several important competitions, gaining a first place at the Vianna da Motta competition, a fifth place at the fifth Chopin competition, and a third at the first Tchaikovsky competition.

But shortly thereafter Naum Shtarkman ran afoul of the law and was arrested and convicted for homosexuality, spending a number of years in prison.  For over twenty years after his release, he was allowed to perform only in remote parts of the USSR or in second or third rate venues in major cities.  He was not allowed to travel outside the USSR and was unable to obtain official teaching positions.  It was not until 1987, on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union, that he was named a professor at the Moscow Conservatory and allowed to resume a serious concert career.

There is a truly lovely performance of the Rachmaninoff second concerto from the time of the Vianna da Motta competition, warm and beautifully crafted, and the slow movement from the Chopin first concerto brings tears to my eyes due to the beauty of Naum Shtarkman's innately pure musicianship.

The complete recordings of both Chopin concerti dating from 2002 when the pianist was 75 years old are also exquisite performances combining the youthfulness of the music with a maturity of musicianship rarely attained by those who play these concerti.

Naum Shtarkman treats us to several entirely unfamiliar (to me) Tchaikovsky waltzes, an equally obscure piece of fluff by Mozart, and a number of the Schubert-Liszt transcriptions, wonderfully played.

In short, the playing of this pianist has been nothing short of a revelation to me. Even, or perhaps I should say especially, the so often performed encore pieces by Rachmaninoff and Grieg have lost their familiarity and shown themselves to me as if for the first time.



Mozart  Rondo in D major, K 485




Mozart  "Bread and Butter"




Beethoven  from Piano Sonata 14 in C♯ minor, Quasi una fantasia, Op 27~2 "Moonlight"

i Adagio sostenuto

video recorded in 1968




Chopin  Nocturne in B minor, Op 9~1

recorded in the mid 1970s




Chopin  from Piano Concerto 1 in E minor, Op 11

ii Romanze: Larghetto

Tugan Sohiev conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra




Chopin  Piano Concerto 1 in E minor, Op 11
Alexandr Chernushenko conducting the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

recorded in 2002


ia Allegro moderato (beginning)



ib Allegro moderato (conclusion)



ii Romanze: Larghetto



iii Rondo: Vivace




Chopin  from Piano Concerto 2 in F minor, Op 21

ii Larghetto

with the Glinka String Quartet in this version for piano and string quartet




Chopin  Piano Concerto 2 in F minor, Op 21
Alexandr Chernushenko conducting the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

recorded in 2002


i Maestoso



ii Larghetto



iii Allegro vivace




Chopin  Étude in E minor, Op. 25~5

video recoded in 1968




Liszt  transcriptions of Schubert songs


"Standchen"(Serenade)



"Gretchen am Spinnrade"



Barcarole "Auf dem Wasser zu singen"



"Ave Maria"



"Das Wandern"



"Der Wanderer"



"Erstarrung"



"Die Post"



"Hark, Hark, the Lark"



"Der Müller und der Bach"




Tchaikovsky  "La Poupée Malade" Op 39~7




Tchaikovsky  Waltz, Op 40~9




Tchaikovsky  "Natha" Waltz, Op 51~2




Tchaikovsky  Méditation, Op 72~5




Grieg  "Wedding day at Troldhaugen"




Rachmaninoff  Prelude in G minor, Op 23~5

video recorded in 1964




Rachmaninoff  Piano Concerto 2 in C minor, Op 18
Pedro de Freytas Branco conducting the National Symphony Orchestra of Portugal

i Moderto
10:26  ii Adagio sostenuto
21:11  iii Allegro scherzando

recorded in 1957










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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