Landmark recordings now available for the first time in a box: the only complete solo Bortkiewicz in a single volume.
A composer-pianist after his time, Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) continued to write music in the post-Romantic Russian tradition well into the 20th century: based on Liszt and Chopin, influenced by Tchaikovsky and Russian folklore, and insulated from Modernism. His craftsmanship was meticulous, his imagination colourful and sensitive, his piano writing as idiomatic as one would expect from a performer coached in the grand manner of 19th-century virtuosity. His voice is strongly established in even his early works: preludes, studies and ballades followed, as well as two grandiloquent sonatas.
Many of Bortkiewicz’s manuscripts ended up in the possession of his good friend, the Dutch pianist Hugo van Dalen. In time the Dutch Musical Institute acquired them and engaged Klaas Trapman to make these recordings between 2002 and 2006. Reissued here complete, they are complemented by new and detailed booklet notes from the Bortkiewicz scholar Wouter Kalkman. For Trapman himself, this project was a labour of love: ‘Bortkiewicz has his own personal voice,’ he remarked in an interview. ‘It is the atmosphere of deep nostalgia, the longing for past joys. This emotional side, blended with his strong melodic gifts, makes his music attractive and appealing to many listeners.’
‘Trapman approaches the music of Bortkiewicz in the manner of the best interpreters of Rachmaninoff, avoiding over dramatization and sentimentality... under Trapman's hands, [the music] always sounds elegant and well made.’ Fanfare (Sept/Oct 2005)
This 6CD-set (the first complete recording) presents the complete solo piano works of Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952), one of the most unjustly overlooked composers.
During his life, Bortkiewicz was oppressed and persecuted by both Soviet and Nazi regimes. A brilliant pianist and composer, he was also a refugee and a survivor of two world wars and a civil war.
The style of Bortkiewicz’s music derives from the great Romantic composers of the 19th century. He adopted Liszt’s rich and brilliant piano writing, Chopin’s lyricism and humanity, the imagery of Schumann’s character pieces and Wagner’s imaginative harmony. His captivating melodies and sweeping pianism make his piano music highly attractive, deserving a far wider recognition.
Dutch pianist Klaas Trapman is a champion of lesser known romantic piano music, having performed works by Alkan, Henselt, Tournemire, Szymanowski and Medtner. He wrote extensively about the piano music of Bortkiewicz.