Variations and salon miniatures by the father of the classical tradition in Russia.
Mikhail Glinka's piano works lie in the shadow of his operas, romances and orchestral music but they share the distinctive voice, the brilliance and Franco-Russian accent of foundational pieces in the Russian classical tradition such as Ruslan and Ludmila. The works recorded here date from the 1820s to the 1840s, when there was no regular concert life or musical education in Russia and when the salon and the opera still formed the centres of musical life. Glinka models his keyboard writing accordingly on the forms immortalised by Chopin such as the waltz, nocturne and mazurka, and the variations on songs, popular Italian opera melodies.
Viacheslav Shelepov opens this beautifully curated album with a delicious set of variations on Alyabyev’s song The Nightingale, cast in a nostalgic E minor. The tiny, three-minute variations on Amid the Plain Valley (a Russian song) are entirely within the salon format, and the Variations on a Scottish Song have a Mendelssohnian delicacy of texture, but the closing variations on a theme from Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi are evidently conceived with the concert stage in mind, and with the fingers of a virtuoso to embrace their exuberant writing.
Viacheslav Shelepov intersperses these variations with one-off demonstrations of Glinka’s mastery in whatever form he chose to address himself. The G major Barcarolle from 1847 deserves to take its place alongside much more familiar examples by Chopin and Mendelssohn for its memorable distillation of poetry and the tug of the gondolier’s oars in its rhythm. A D major Fugue works up a relatively sober theme to a satisfying climax out of proportion to its three-minute duration. Also from 1847, the Prayer is much more dramatic and eventful than its title would suggest, especially in this dynamically shaded account by Viacheslav Shelepov.
Born in 1991, Shelepov studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire and the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover, while winning prizes at several renowned piano competitions across Europe. He studied fortepiano with Alexei Lubimov and Alexei Shevchenko, harpsichord with Maria Uspenskaya, modern piano with Sergey Kasprov. He is the winner of several international pianoforte competitions. He brings to these performances a keen awareness of period practice in the lightness of his touch, while also playing with the rhythmic freedom which Romantic composers such as Glinka, Chopin and Schumann wove into the fabric of their piano music.
An attractive program of rarely recorded piano music by Michael Glinka (1804-1857), the “Father of Russian music”. In the first half of the 19th century Glinka gave a distinctive national character and flavour to Russian music, mainly in his vocal and operatic works. These piano works however smell of chic 19th century salons, written in brilliant “divertimento”-style, aimed at pleasing and amazing the audience, melodious, charming and showing off the virtuoso skills of the performer.
The piano music consists of sets of Theme & Variations, a Mazurka, Waltz, Barcarole and Nocturne.
Viacheslav Shelepov plays Glinka on an 1846 Érard piano, enticing the listener to share his admiration for this music with a blend of historical style and personal enthusiasm.