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Nikolai Lugansky - Tchaikovsky: Grand Sonata & The Seasons

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Tchaikovsky: Grand Sonata & The Seasons

Nikolai Lugansky

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Though less well-known than his operas, his symphonies and concertos, Tchaikovsky’s piano music nonetheless contains at least essential works of his, i.e. the cycle The Seasons Op. 37b, and the Grand Sonata Op. 37. Composed at a period of crisis in the composer’s personal life, they illustrate two quite different aspects of his style: on the one hand we have the fashionable worldliness of The Seasons, pieces that almost belong to the genre of salon music; on the other hand, we see him ambitiously grappling with the large format of the classical sonata, in the tradition of his illustrious predecessors. Composed between December 1875 and May 1876, the cycle of The Seasons was written like some kind of musical calendar for the year 1876, to a commission by the publisher of the monthly review Le Nouvelliste, the idea being to issue a piano piece every month. Composed in 1878 when the classical sonata – which composers deemed to be too restrictive – was largely abandoned in favour of free-form pieces, Tchaikovsky’s Grand Sonata in G major upheld the ancient four-movement structure. The pianistic writing of the Grand Sonata conveys a sense of forceful power that seems to go beyond the tonal dimensions of the piano and conjure up the multiple sound resources of a symphony orchestra, as might be expected from someone of the composer’s power. In a letter to his younger brother, Tchaikovsky complained about the difficulties he faced in writing his sonata: “I'm working on a sonata for piano... [and its composition] does not come easily. I worked unsuccessfully, with little progress. I'm again having to force myself to work, without much enthusiasm. I can't understand why it should be the case that, in spite of so many favourable circumstances, I’m not in the mood for work. I'm having to squeeze out of myself weak and feeble ideas, and ruminate over each bar. But I keep at it, and hope that inspiration will suddenly strike.” Tchaikovsky isn’t particularly a piano composer; and the only recording of him that Nikolai Lugansky had made up till now was of the First Piano Concerto; even though the pianist had played several of his works for the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994. He has been described by Gramophone as ‘the most trailblazing and meteoric performer of all’ for his extraordinary depth and versatility. © SM/Qobuz

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Tchaikovsky: Grand Sonata & The Seasons

Nikolai Lugansky

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Grand Sonata in G Major, Op. 37, TH 139 (Pyotr Illitch Tchaïkovski)

1
I. Moderato e risoluto
00:14:55

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

2
II. Andante non troppo quasi moderato
00:10:15

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

3
III. Scherzo. Allegro giocoso
00:03:03

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

4
IV. Finale. Allegro vivace
00:07:00

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

The Seasons, Op. 37a, TH 135 (Pyotr Illitch Tchaïkovski)

5
No. 1 in A Major, January. By the Hearth
00:05:54

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

6
No. 2 in D Major, February. The Carnival
00:02:57

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

7
No. 3 in G Minor, March. Song of the Lark
00:02:37

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

8
No. 4 in B-Flat Major, April. Snowdrop
00:02:53

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

9
No. 5 in G Major, May. White Nights
00:04:56

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

10
No. 6 in G Minor, June. Barcarolle
00:05:00

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

11
No. 7 in E-Flat Major, July. Reaper's Song
00:01:52

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

12
No. 8 in B Minor, August. The Harvest
00:03:40

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

13
No. 9 in G Major, September. The Hunt
00:02:53

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

14
No. 10 in D Minor, October. Autumn Song
00:05:36

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

15
No. 11 in E Major, November. On the Troika
00:03:20

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

16
No. 12 in A-Flat Major, December. Christmas
00:04:47

Nikolai Lugansky, Pianist - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

2017 Naïve, a Label of Believe Group Naïve, a Label of Believe Group

Album Description

Though less well-known than his operas, his symphonies and concertos, Tchaikovsky’s piano music nonetheless contains at least essential works of his, i.e. the cycle The Seasons Op. 37b, and the Grand Sonata Op. 37. Composed at a period of crisis in the composer’s personal life, they illustrate two quite different aspects of his style: on the one hand we have the fashionable worldliness of The Seasons, pieces that almost belong to the genre of salon music; on the other hand, we see him ambitiously grappling with the large format of the classical sonata, in the tradition of his illustrious predecessors. Composed between December 1875 and May 1876, the cycle of The Seasons was written like some kind of musical calendar for the year 1876, to a commission by the publisher of the monthly review Le Nouvelliste, the idea being to issue a piano piece every month. Composed in 1878 when the classical sonata – which composers deemed to be too restrictive – was largely abandoned in favour of free-form pieces, Tchaikovsky’s Grand Sonata in G major upheld the ancient four-movement structure. The pianistic writing of the Grand Sonata conveys a sense of forceful power that seems to go beyond the tonal dimensions of the piano and conjure up the multiple sound resources of a symphony orchestra, as might be expected from someone of the composer’s power. In a letter to his younger brother, Tchaikovsky complained about the difficulties he faced in writing his sonata: “I'm working on a sonata for piano... [and its composition] does not come easily. I worked unsuccessfully, with little progress. I'm again having to force myself to work, without much enthusiasm. I can't understand why it should be the case that, in spite of so many favourable circumstances, I’m not in the mood for work. I'm having to squeeze out of myself weak and feeble ideas, and ruminate over each bar. But I keep at it, and hope that inspiration will suddenly strike.” Tchaikovsky isn’t particularly a piano composer; and the only recording of him that Nikolai Lugansky had made up till now was of the First Piano Concerto; even though the pianist had played several of his works for the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994. He has been described by Gramophone as ‘the most trailblazing and meteoric performer of all’ for his extraordinary depth and versatility. © SM/Qobuz

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