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Solo Piano - Released August 25, 2017 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Alexei Lubimov chose to play these works by CPE Bach on a tangent piano, a very rare keyboard instrument with an unusual sound. From the middle of the eighteenth century the tangent piano became popular because it could offer more a expressive and intense sound than the harpsichord, and thereby could respond to the changes in the Zeitgeist. It is no accident that all three of the great Viennese composers – Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – named the ‘Hamburg Bach’ (Carl Philip Emanuel Bach), as their model. As he grew into maturity, CPE’s interest in keyboard music increasingly came to hone in on three genres: the fantasy, the rondo and the sonata. The present album is devoted to all three, plus a few lesser pieces to which the composer gave the title solfeggi. Six of the major pieces proposed by Alexei Lubimov are taken from the great collections known as “für Kenner und Liebhaber”, for connoisseurs and amateurs written between 1779 and 1787. The smaller pieces are taken from other printed collections Keyboard pieces of various kinds and Musical miscellany, published 1765. The listener may thus compare styles of works written at the very end of the Baroque period, and others composed during a time when Haydn and Mozart were already  stars. Lubimov plays a modern copy of a Späht und Schmahl tangent piano built between 1794.

Classical - Released November 6, 2012 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
One way to look at Mozart's keyboard music is to consider the fortepiano as basically an extension of the harpsichord, with the music increasingly but only incrementally making use of the new instrument's additional capabilities. Another outlook, less common but perhaps gaining ground, is that the piano marked a stark break from the earlier sound concept. This recording by Russian pianists Alexei Lubimov and Yury Martynov -- a contemporary music specialist and a historically oriented performer, which is an unusual combination in itself -- marks an extreme version of the latter view. Using a pair of period instruments by unspecified makers, Lubimov and Martynov offer Mozart's slender output of music for two pianos (strangely, he left several pieces in this medium unfinished for no good reason), augmented by an arrangement of the Piano Quartet in E flat major, K. 493, by one Johann Pratsch. Lubimov and Martynov don't exploit the dynamic range of the fortepiano so much as its range of articulation, which is varied between the two keyboards in striking ways. The Sonata for two pianos in D major, K. 448, is one of the "symphonic" pieces of Mozart keyboard music, with melodies unfolding over layered arpeggios that sound as though they're drawn from string writing. The work has never sounded as orchestral as it does here. The piano quartet arrangement is really brilliantly chosen for this program, with the accompanying piano, which switches off between the two, creating a variety of very string-like sounds. The most intriguing quality of this recording is that even the various buzzes and other non-tonal sounds characteristic of early pianos somehow become incorporated into the music-making; the players create a sound with enough dimension to encompass it. This is certainly not the only way to play Mozart's piano music, even on fortepianos, but if you're after something new and different, by all means listen. © TiVo

Classical - Released April 8, 2014 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Although it is played on a period instrument, no one is arguing that this recording of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ is historically authentic. The work, exceptionally in Haydn's output, exists in multiple versions, for orchestra, string quartet, chorus, and keyboard (either fortepiano or harpsichord). But surely Haydn did not have the instrument heard here, the rare tangent piano, in his head. This was, speaking roughly, a piano-harpsichord hybrid that never really found its footing in the late 18th century. As long as listeners are down with the idea of a fairly speculative recording, the effect of the tangent piano in this particular work is electrifying. Lubimov gets the best of both worlds: the intimacy of the keyboard version and the dynamic contrasts and timbral shadings of the orchestral original. The keyboard transcription is not by Haydn himself but was made in his own time, and he approved it. Lubimov works from this, tweaking it and adding contrasts that break up the seven consecutive slow movements and give them an extraordinarily expressive quality. Even when listeners know it's coming, the final Terremoto movement, depicting the earthquake following Christ's crucifixion, comes as a shock. Listeners will never hear the work quite the same way again after experiencing this recording, and even if Haydn didn't intend it this way, most may well end up wishing he had. © TiVo

Classical - Released February 5, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For this Alpha-Classics album of modernist music arranged for two pianos, Alexei Lubimov and Slava Poprugin play four essential works that yield some surprises in their keyboard versions. Three of the pieces are transcriptions of instrumental music, specifically Igor Stravinsky's arrangement of his Concerto in E flat major, "Dumbarton Oaks," John Cage's reduction of Erik Satie's Socrate, and Darius Milhaud's four-hand transcription of Satie's Cinéma (composed as a soundtrack for the short Dadaist film Entr'acte, used in the ballet Relâche), with Stravinsky's Concerto for two pianos solo performed as it was originally written. Lubimov and Poprugin play three pianos, a 1906 Gaveau, a 1909 Bechstein, and a 1920 Pleyel, so the vintage sonorities of the early modern era are used effectively to create the appropriate ambience and authentic period feeling. The pianists' lively playing and crisp attacks accentuate the unique character of these instruments, and overall the performances offer distinctive timbres a world away from the familiar sound of modern pianos. This is a fascinating exploration of modernism in a medium that was quite familiar to all of the composers of the time, though startling details will emerge, especially for listeners who can hear these pieces with fresh ears. © TiVo

Classical - Released September 11, 2013 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Among Ludwig van Beethoven's most popular piano sonatas are the Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, "Moonlight," the Sonata No. 21 in C major,"Waldstein," and the Sonata No. 17 in D minor, "The Storm" (also known as "The Tempest"). Because of their great familiarity and variety of moods, they are excellent choices for demonstrating how Beethoven's music sounded on an instrument of his time, such as the of the 1802 Erard pianoforte, of which a modern copy by Christopher Clarke is used in these period-style performances by Alexei Lubimov. Where one might expect power, smoothness, and a rich, rounded tone from a modern concert grand, the sound of this pianoforte is slightly muted in soft passages, clangorous at its loudest, and even a little buzzing in its overtones. Nowhere are these qualities more shocking than in the first movement of "Moonlight," where the music takes on a remote and antique quality, reminiscent perhaps of a cimbalom or harpsichord in certain notes. But if, after hearing this movement, the listener has acclimatized to the instrument's quirky sonorities (which are quite variable throughout the disc), then the album can be enjoyed as a masterly recital of Beethoven's music and the instrument's attractive possibilities. The hybrid SACD is well-protected by a hardcover book, which not only has informative liner notes but several full color photographs of the pianoforte. © TiVo

Classical - Released January 20, 2011 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
The late piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven are monuments in the literature, and most listeners would likely agree that they sound most impressive on a modern-day grand piano, which can supply all the volume, weight, and sonority they demand. However, Alexei Lubimov has performed the Sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, and 111, on an Alois Graff pianoforte, built in 1828, an authentic instrument from Beethoven's period. The results are not quite as tinny or small-voiced as might be expected from a vintage pianoforte, but fuller and rounder in soft passages, and the instrument only acquires a jangly tone at the loudest dynamics. Lubimov's interpretations are thoughtful and unhurried, and the care he lavishes on the slow movements is to be admired. But he must have felt the need to be a little cautious playing the Allegros and Prestos, because he never thunders or slams his way through, and his sixteenth notes are very clearly articulated with a surprisingly delicate touch. This album will appeal most to the historically inclined, who will want to have an approximation of what Beethoven's contemporaries might have heard. Fortunately for listeners who want their Beethoven played on bigger modern instruments, the majority of recordings of the piano sonatas fill that need. Outhere's sound is highly resonant, thanks to the live acoustics of the United Mennonite Church, Haarlem. © TiVo

Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
”Is it Schubert? Chopin? Or Brahms?” boldly asks the accompanying booklet for this recording of Dussek’s works. One may wonder whether there aren’t some Beethoven influences – and there are! – and even some Weber, but in fact, history runs backwards as the Concerto for 2 Pianos, Op.63 presented here dates back to 1806, the Rondo Concertant is from 1809 and the Quintet from 1799, prior (or at best at the same time) to the time when Weber conceived his great works. Indeed, many tendancies are evocative of a young Chopin and his Concertos. In many regards, Dussek was a visionary: his orchestration is particularly audacious – this is in fact more of a concert symphony than a traditional concerto – and his harmonic mood swings are especially bold and delightful … The Quintet itself is also unique: it was put together for the same unusual orchestra as Schubert’s Trout Quintet, meaning a violin, alto, cello, double bass, and piano. With its exquisitely free flowing writing, the work contains many surprises for the listener to discover on their own. The album ends with Notturno concertant for horn, violin, and piano. The two fortepianos are played by Alexei Lubimov and Olga Pashchenko, one is a copy of a Walter instrument and the other is a Longman/Clementi. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released January 8, 2010 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
Listeners who have grown up with the tone of the modern concert grand piano may find the sound of the pianoforte tiny, tinny, pingy, and plunky. But for listeners with adventurous ears, the pianoforte may offer a welcome contrast with the lusher tones and heavier sonorities of the concert grand, and for them the player will be more important than the instrument. And so it is here. Performed on two beautifully restored instruments, Aleksei Lubimov's 2009 recording of Schubert's eight impromptus delivers superb accounts of the well-loved works. Though his tempos are fairly standard, his supple phrasing, subtle shading, and use of rubato give his playing great flexibility. Lubimov makes good use of his instruments by using their innate characteristics to bring out the best in Schubert's keyboard writing so that every line is clear and ideally balanced. The digital sound is more than acceptable, but it may be a tad too tightly focused on the instrument for some listeners. © TiVo

Solo Piano - Released June 29, 2018 | Brilliant Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
If you had to name the bridge between Beethoven and Schubert, it would have to be Dusek. Sadly, his lack of a local following – Beethoven, Mozart, Hayden, Schubert and Brahms all had adopted home towns to root for them, after all – has made him less of an obvious choice. Born in Lithuania, he went to live in St Petersburg, where he dodged deportation to Siberia by moving to Paris, where he dodged a revolutionary tribunal by fleeing to London, which he had to leave in a hurry in order to escape prison, winding up in Hamburg... And eventually he would find himself in Prague, and, finally, Paris, where he died at the age of just 52. For this third volume of his complete sonatas, Alexei Lubimov – playing a 1799 Longman-Clementi fortepiano – has chosen two monuments of his mature period: the 18th Sonata "L'Adieu" of 1800 and the staggering 28th Sonata "The Invocation" from 1812. These works reveal a Dussek who is anchored as much in the past – with Bach's polyphonic rigour and an elegance of writing taken from Mozart and Hayden – as he is in the present, with the power of Beethoven; and indeed the future with impressive turns of harmonic and pianistic daring. His years spent with London's Broadwood piano-makers, with whom he would work on many innovations, were clearly not in vain. Alexei Lubimov studied with Heinrich Neuhaus – the great Russian piano teacher – and at the start of his career specialised in the hyper-avant-garde of Boulez, Cage and Stockhausen, before turning towards period instruments, which he was the first to bring to the very conservative Moscow Conservatory. From the 1980s he was able to excite the interest of the whole Soviet musical world in the fortepiano, before developing a global career. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Christophorus

Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Classical - Released May 13, 2002 | ECM New Series


Classical - Released September 5, 2005 | ECM New Series


Classical - Released April 27, 2012 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet
Alexei Lubimov's 2012 album of Claude Debussy's Préludes for piano is a generous offering, for in addition to presenting Books I and II complete on two discs, it also includes transcriptions for two pianos of the Trois Nocturnes and the Prélude à l'après-midi d'une faune. ECM New Series is best known for its polished releases of contemporary music, though the label has increased its catalog of early modern music, and this package is a fine addition. Lubimov plays with refinement and control in his solo performances, and his palette of tone colors is varied, with a nuanced touch and subtle shadings of phrases. The feeling Lubimov communicates is close to reverie, though the music always has shape and never becomes loose or merely atmospheric. In the transcription performances where Lubimov teams up with Alexei Zuev, there is a bolder, more direct handling of the music, perhaps in recognition of the original orchestral sound, but also because the thickened textures of two pianos admit less delicacy. The reproduction is clean and resonant, so notes are clearly captured despite the abundance of pedaling and the blurred effects so often found in Debussy. © TiVo

Classical - Released May 1, 2005 | Naxos


Classical - Released January 1, 2001 | Megadisc Classics

Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (born 1937) has led an excruciatingly unfortunate professional life, but he has managed to persevere and remain productive. The Soviet establishment assailed his work as corrupted by Western formalism, and just as he was beginning to be acknowledged in the West as a courageous and forward-looking voice of the avant-garde, his work underwent a seismic shift toward simplicity, which alienated his Western defenders. His new aesthetic is most radically embodied in Silent Songs (1973-1977), a cycle of 24 songs for piano and lyric soprano or light baritone that lasts nearly two hours, and which the composer stipulates must be performed without a break, as a single extended song. To further distance himself from the likelihood of performance, much less critical or popular acceptance, all the songs are slow and very, very quiet. What's remarkable about this recording is that it's not the only one that this work has received, so the listener actually has a choice of performances. Alexei Martinov's natural-sounding, unforced baritone allows him to sing the music with the lightness the composer specifies, "to create the illusion of a very soft sigh." He has the control to keep the volume around the level of a whisper, and his pure, straight tone and folk-like ease are perfectly suited to the character of the songs. The only quibble with his performance is the tendency of his voice to occasionally drop out at the bottom of his range. Pianist Alexei Lubimov shows admirable restraint in sustaining the hushed atmosphere the songs require, and his attention to the composer's extensive use of rubato provides the rhythmic fluidity to keep the austerity of the piano part from sounding rote or mechanical. On ECM's 2004 release, baritone Sergey Yakovenko's voice is more operatic, and he uses considerably more vibrato than Martinov. While Yakovenko is more secure throughout his range, his performance sounds more expressive in the traditional anguished Slavic sense and more effortful. Silvestrov specified that "the performer should affect a subdued expression without psychology," and Martinov's simplicity is more faithful to the composer's intention, and ultimately more affecting. The songs themselves are astonishingly fresh and expressive, considering their very circumscribed dynamics, tempi, and harmonic language. Silvestrov demonstrates his mastery in the face of his self-imposed limitations in a variety of ways. His melodies are memorable and effortlessly lyrical. He avoids predictable periodicity in his text setting, which is always fluent and inevitable sounding. He uses mostly conventional triadic harmony, but his progressions are rarely conventional. The songs are, quite simply, beautiful. They call to mind lilies of the valley -- small, not showy, often nearly obscured by the shade, but for those who pay close attention, exquisitely and delicately formed, with a hauntingly sweet fragrance. © TiVo

Classical - Released February 10, 2003 | ECM New Series


Classical - Released August 24, 2018 | Warner Classics


Classical - Released September 5, 2006 | ECM New Series


Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | ECM New Series

This CD's title, Messe Noire, and its dark cover art may mislead some into thinking this album is filled with evil, forbidden things; but the only selection that suggests the diabolical is Alexander Scriabin's macabre Sonata No. 9, "Black Mass," and it comes at the very end, after Igor Stravinsky's light, neo-Classical Serenade in A, Dmitry Shostakovich's sardonic Sonata No. 2, and Sergey Prokofiev's witty but brutal knuckle-buster, the Sonata No. 7, which all have their dark moments, certainly, but not the same sinister mood found in Scriabin. If pianist Aleksei Lubimov's aim in bringing these Russian masterworks together points to some other unifying idea -- perhaps the significance of the piano in these composers' thinking -- then some other title might have been more helpful. As it is, though, this album seems most unified in Lubimov's vigorous style of playing, brittle execution, and emphasis on the piano's percussive sonorities, evident in each performance. This spiky approach works best in Prokofiev's sonata, and fairly well in Shostakovich's and Stravinsky's pieces; but it seems too sterile in Scriabin's music, which needs more languor and sensuous writhing than clarity or crispness. Other than that, Lubimov's playing is impressive, and he is well recorded by ECM, though in a rather dry acoustic. © TiVo

Classical - Released June 1, 1999 | Megadisc Classics