Collection: Tchaikovsky and His Friends

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Arensky and Rachmaninov,Glazunov,Lyadov,Taneyev,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Works by Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Taneyev, Lyadov, Arensky and Rachmaninov
PERFORMER: Margaret Fingerhut (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9218 DDD

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Perhaps the most revealing feature of this CD of piano music by friends and pupils of Tchaikovsky is how little they sound like the master, despite their admiration. Tchaikovsky’s own Dumka, Chanson sans paroles and Humoresque (tune later borrowed by another admirer, Stravinsky, for The Fairy’s Kiss) contain the authentic voice. Other pieces can sound laboured by comparison. Arensky’s Romance is production-line salon music, and the facile tone-painting of his Le ruisseau dans la forêt lies within the capabilities of the average pianist-improviser.

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Glazunov’s piano music, a D major prelude and two études (the E minor a pale version of Chopin’s Fantaisie-impromptu) is charmante, but technically predictable. Four short works by Anatol Lyadov are another matter. Two preludes show a breadth of harmonic imagination worthy of Tchaikovsky himself. A pair of intimate sketches, La douleur and Pastorale, offer the most refreshing music on this disc in terms of simplicity allied to artistic purpose. Fingerhut responds warmly to their textural clarity and blossoms in the rich complexity of Rachmaninov: the Elégie, Mélodie and Polichinelle from Op. 3. In contrast, Taneyev was an interesting figure who repays further study; but not in this medium. Nicholas Williams