Russian Pianist

Vassily Sapellnikoff was a pupil of Sophie Menter, a great piano virtuoso and one of Franz Liszt's favorite students. He was a highly respected concert painist and became a professor of piano at the Moscow Conservatory in 1897.

Sapellnikoff was a close friend of Tchaikovsky's (it is rumored they were lovers), whose B♭ minor concerto he performed to great acclaim at his debut with the composer conducting. He was the first to record the work in 1926. This performance offers a view of the composer's own conception of the work as being considerably less a vehicle for technical supremacy than we are accustomed to today.

Tchaikovsky wrote, "A rare force, beauty, and brilliancy of tone; inspired warmth of rendering; a wonderful power of self-restraint; finish of detail, musical sensibility, and complete self-confidence. These are the distinguishing characteristics of Sapellnikoff's playing." High praise indeed!

Sapellnikov left a handful of recordings of solo works for piano. Some of these recordings are of relatively unfamiliar works by Russian composers: Alabiev, Balakirev, Liadov, and Sapellnikov himself. They give us a charming view of late 19th Century Russian Salon piano music and how it was played.

The more familiar Mendelssoh Scherzo is a refreshing delight, as are the pieces by Tchaikovsky and Wagner-Liszt.

Sapellnikoff Gavotte, Op 4 ~2
recorded in 1923

Alabiev-Liszt "Le Rossignol"
recorded in 1923

Balakirev Mazurka 4 in G♭ major
recorded in 1925

Liadov "Musical Snuff Box" Op 23
recorded in 1925

Mendelssohn Scherzo in E minor, Op 16 ~2
recorded in 1924

Liszt Valse Impromptu
recorded in 1925

Liszt "Gnomenreigen"
recorded in 1925

Wagner-Liszt "Spinning Song" from The Flying Dutchman
recorded in 1925

Brahms Hungarian Dance 6 in D♭ major
recorded in 1924

Tchaikovsky Humoresque in G major, Op 10 ~2
recorded in 1924

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1 in B♭ minor, Op 23
Stanley Chapple conducting the Aeolian Orchestra
recorded in 1926

ia Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso. Allegro con spirito (beginning)

ib Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso. Allegro con spirito (conclusion)

ii Andantino simplice – Prestissimo

iii Allegro con fuoco

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