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Monday, September 21, 2015

Boris Tishchenko, Piano Sonatas No. 7 with Bells & No. 8, Nicolas Stavy

In time, if we continue to keep our ears open, we hear much, ever more as the years roll by. Take as an example one Boris Tishchenko (1939-2010), Russian composer extraordinaire, and his Piano Sonatas No. 7 with bells & No. 8 (BIS 2189).

Nicolas Stavy has prepared for us considerably appropriate versions of these most original sonatas, with the help of Jean-Claude Gengembre on bells for No. 7. This is music of a modern Russian cast, essentially tonal and quirkily emerging out of time with some modernist spices and a very original way of unfolding, with its own kind of structural continuity and melodic-harmonic unpredictability.

The part for bells (large bells, tubular bells and glockenspiel) in "Sonata No. 7" adds a good deal and does so with a kind of flair that Tishchenko exhibits in various ways throughout both sonatas. There is a hint of the sort of sarcasm and waywardness one can hear in the Russian modern tradition via especially Prokofiev and Shostakovich. (He studied with Shostakovich.) Yet there is an identity thoroughly Tishchenko-ist notwithstanding. He uses tradition in many ways, only to subvert it to his own ends.

The eleven sonatas written over the full course of Tischenko's career are apparently central to his output. Certainly the seventh and eighth reveal a brilliant musical mind and an engagingly idiomatic sense of pianism at work. Where the seventh has sometimes great dash, the eighth has a puckish sense of form and tradition unbound and rebound according to Tishchenko's vision. A grotesque can-can makes a mischievous appearance, willfully, out of more "serious" passage work, for example. This is an excellent example of the post- element. What goes with what is a matter for a personal aesthetic and the needs of Tishchenko's fertile imagination.

We get some very fascinating modern music with these two sonatas, played with great sympathy, attention to detail and a good deal of heart by Nicolas Stavy.

If you are a dedicated follower of pianoforte expression in our time, this will give you much joy and substance to experience. Tishchenko is a present-day original, a musical titan as it were, determined to carve out his own path. The album is essential and leaves me wanting to hear more, much more. Molto bravo!

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