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 Post subject: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:51 pm 
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Two more preludes from Cesar Cui's set of 25 Preludes Op.64. A much-maligned and underrated composer, hardly ever one of his many works is ever heard. Maybe history is just, and maybe it's cruel. IMO at least this set of preludes deserves wider recognition.

Cui - 25 Preludes Op.64 - 7: Allegro non troppo (1:41)
Cui - 25 Preludes Op.64 - 12: Allegretto (2:47)

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Twp Preludes
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:40 am 
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I liked the first one because it reminded me a little of a Granados impromptu that I've played - but just for a couple measures. The second piece was okay until about the last quarter where I think it started going on for a tad too long. Your playing is good, as usual, although maybe it could be more graceful here; it sounds a little heavy-handed. These are okay but don't really spark interest in listening to anymore Cui. Also, I really don't like the photo we have of him on the home page!!

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Twp Preludes
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:32 am 
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Chris, I too like the first one, very much in fact. I'm trying to make a connection of it to something that I think (?) is Brahms -- but can't put my finger on it. :? Maybe someone else can help me here? The 2nd one doesn't do much for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:24 am 
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Thanks for the comments.
pianolady wrote:
I liked the first one because it reminded me a little of a Granados impromptu that I've played - but just for a couple measures. The second piece was okay until about the last quarter where I think it started going on for a tad too long. Your playing is good, as usual, although maybe it could be more graceful here; it sounds a little heavy-handed. These are okay but don't really spark interest in listening to anymore Cui. Also, I really don't like the photo we have of him on the home page!!

Yeah if only he would look like Granados and his music sound like Granados .... that would help would it not :P

musical-md wrote:
Chris, I too like the first one, very much in fact. I'm trying to make a connection of it to something that I think (?) is Brahms -- but can't put my finger on it. Maybe someone else can help me here? The 2nd one doesn't do much for me.

Indeed the octave passages are a bit Brahmsian.
The second one is actually one of my favorites of the set.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:30 pm 
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<deleted: response no longer relevant>

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Last edited by musical-md on Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:54 am 
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Hi Chris,

I really enjoyed both preludes. Sometimes Cui's melodic lines, instead of sounding inevitable here, take unexpected twists and turns, as do the accompanying harmonies. Cui's earliest attempts at writing for the piano seem a bit awkward and banal to me, but these two preludes show more musical sophistication in my opinion. Both seem to me to be fine compositions.

I don't have the scores here, but I believe that you played both pieces exceptionally well, as both were completely convincing. Will you be playing more of these preludes?

It's good too to have more lesser-known Russian music on the site.

Thanks for posting these recordings.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:03 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
I really enjoyed both preludes. Sometimes Cui's melodic lines, instead of sounding inevitable here, take unexpected twists and turns, as do the accompanying harmonies. Cui's earliest attempts at writing for the piano seem a bit awkward and banal to me, but these two preludes show more musical sophistication in my opinion. Both seem to me to be fine compositions.

I don't have the scores here, but I believe that you played both pieces exceptionally well, as both were completely convincing. Will you be playing more of these preludes?

Thanks for the appreciation David ! Though it is clear that Cui was not a pianist (he writes some strange things sometimes) I finf thes preludes to sound totally pianistic, and very Russian (amazing, considering Cui was of Lithuanian-French heritage).
I have a handful more of these preludes on the roster. So far I don't intend to do the CS (quite a novelty for me ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:56 pm 
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These sound nice. For criticism, a little bit more rubato on the Allegro non troppo. The 2nd piece is one I would like to practice, I hear a little of Tchaikovsky in the left hand.

Too bad that he is underappreciated, though perhaps you are changing that :)

~Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:49 am 
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pianoman342 wrote:
Too bad that he is underappreciated, though perhaps you are changing that :)

More likely the people changing that would be Jeffrey Biegel and Margaret Fingerhut through whose excellent recordings on Youtube I got to know these preludes.
Yes, the second of these does have echoes of Tchaikovsky.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:24 pm 
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Having listened to these and other pieces by Cui I wonder how he can be considered a "nationalist" to be mentioned in the same breath as Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev. Of course I know he was a member of the Mighty Handful and all that, but even his origins are non-Russian and his music to me sounds anything but Russian. Tchaikovsky, who was reviled by the Mighty as been sold-out to Western decadence or whatever, is more of a nationalist that Cui.

The first of these two I found a bit nondescript, though I did enjoy listening to the second one and this is a welcome addition to the site.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:20 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Having listened to these and other pieces by Cui I wonder how he can be considered a "nationalist" to be mentioned in the same breath as Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev. Of course I know he was a member of the Mighty Handful and all that, but even his origins are non-Russian and his music to me sounds anything but Russian. Tchaikovsky, who was reviled by the Mighty as been sold-out to Western decadence or whatever, is more of a nationalist that Cui.

I don't know whether Cui wrote 'nationalistic' (whatever that term implies) works. But piano music can sounds Russian even if not nationalistic. It's something about the harmonies, rhythms, and figurations - Liadov has it too, as do many Russians. An innate feeling for the piano. I rate Cui's piano music higher than that of Rimsky, Borodin, or even Moussorgsky, in terms of being pianistic (even though Cui clearly was no pianist, he could write down the most impossible things). Even Balakirev, whose piano music is outstanding and highly regarded in Russia, if not played as often as it should, is not usually 'nationalistic'. Most of Tchaikovsky's piano music is not 'nationalistic' either. But again, I'm not sure what that term really means.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Twp Preludes
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:37 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
I'm trying to make a connection of it to something that I think (?) is Brahms -- but can't put my finger on it. :?


I felt there were tinges of Brahms also. Perhaps it's the general texture which is quite dense in places. There was a passage in the first piece (about half way in) which vaguely reminded me of the second Brahms concerto.

I didn't expect much of these pieces, so it's nice to say that I found them rather more appealing than I had imagined.


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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Twp Preludes
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:32 pm 
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andrew wrote:
I felt there were tinges of Brahms also. Perhaps it's the general texture which is quite dense in places. There was a passage in the first piece (about half way in) which vaguely reminded me of the second Brahms concerto.
Yes I know which bit you mean, and what it reminds you of. Quite tricky, although I imagine the corresponding passage in the Brahms concerto to be infinitely more difficult.

andrew wrote:
I didn't expect much of these pieces, so it's nice to say that I found them rather more appealing than I had imagined.

Good :D One should keep an open mind and give lesser composers the benefit of the doubt. They often may surprise you.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:24 pm 
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techneut wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Having listened to these and other pieces by Cui I wonder how he can be considered a "nationalist" to be mentioned in the same breath as Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev. Of course I know he was a member of the Mighty Handful and all that, but even his origins are non-Russian and his music to me sounds anything but Russian. Tchaikovsky, who was reviled by the Mighty as been sold-out to Western decadence or whatever, is more of a nationalist that Cui.

I don't know whether Cui wrote 'nationalistic' (whatever that term implies) works. But piano music can sounds Russian even if not nationalistic. It's something about the harmonies, rhythms, and figurations - Liadov has it too, as do many Russians. An innate feeling for the piano. I rate Cui's piano music higher than that of Rimsky, Borodin, or even Moussorgsky, in terms of being pianistic (even though Cui clearly was no pianist, he could write down the most impossible things). Even Balakirev, whose piano music is outstanding and highly regarded in Russia, if not played as often as it should, is not usually 'nationalistic'. Most of Tchaikovsky's piano music is not 'nationalistic' either. But again, I'm not sure what that term really means.


We mean the same thing: I mean by nationalistic (a term I am not too fond of) the ideals of the Mightly Handful and in Cui I definitively do not hear any of that! Tchaikovsky I find quite Russian, but, either in subject matter or even in his music. If you take the piano music, look at the Album for the Young: the last piece, In Church, borrows from Russian Orthodox chant. If you look at his symphonies, take his first two ones or The Snow Maiden (Yes, I mean his op. 12) you will see the same. Of course, this seems to be something all Russians have, even the very first composers of instrumental music, like Bortnjanskij and Khandorshkin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZtBLfZrOIE

Does this not remind you of Tchaikovsky, and yet it was written when Haydn was alive and went unpublished till some years before this recording was made!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlluQpsU ... re=related

This one actually reminds me of a song by Chopin!

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:14 pm 
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Wow, that Khandorshkin piece sounds in the beginning almost as if it should have been written 50 years later. It has such a "romantic" sense about it. It wasn't until towards the middle that I began to truely hear the Classical period articulations and phrasings.

Those are both interesting pieces and I do hear a bit of "Russian" in both of them.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:58 am 
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techneut wrote:
andrew wrote:
I didn't expect much of these pieces, so it's nice to say that I found them rather more appealing than I had imagined.

Good :D One should keep an open mind and give lesser composers the benefit of the doubt. They often may surprise you.


I absolutely agree - one of the nice things about this site is that there are frequent opportunities to hear such composers.


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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:27 am 
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Hi,

Quote:
I don't know whether Cui wrote 'nationalistic' (whatever that term implies) works.


What I recall about the 19th century "nationalistic" trends in music was that nationalism revered the popular folk songs and dances, local legends and places, great historical events, etc. Thus there emerged Chopin's mazurkas, Grieg's references to folkways in his many character pieces, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies, Dvorak's "Slavonic Dances", etc. Mousorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" might be considered nationalistic too. For instance, what could be more Russian than the celebration of The Great Gate at Kiev with its carillons? Russians love bells! Borodin's "Polovtzian Dances" later quoted by Ravel in his homage to Borodin in the recording I posted here would be a another good example of Russian nationalism I think. Unfortunately, I know very little about Cui and his piano repertoire, so I'm unable to cite an example there. Tchaikovsky was never drawn into the nationalistic movement, and in that respect was much like Rachmaninoff, Medtner and others who were not much influenced by flavor of the day trends and resolutely continued to focus on what they did best.

Moving into the 20th Century Bartok would certainly be considered nationalistic to an extent given the amount of time and effort he put into researching and documenting Hungarian folk songs and sometimes referring to their rhythms and tunes in his music. Probably a good deal of later Soviet era Russian music exalting socialist ideals as required by the ministry of culture would be a more recent modern example of nationalistic music.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:33 pm 
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While in general I agree with your point of view, I beg to difer, David, about Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. I would say they were also "nationalistic", albeit in a more moderate manner. You could not by any strech of the imagination listen to the works of either and say, "This is a German composer. You would immediately say, Russian!" This goes also for Stravinsky (at least the early period). You mention the Great Gate of Kiev with the bells: Rachmaninoff was fascinated by these very bells that you say fascinate Russians! Both, by the way, contributed music to the Russian Orthodox Church, which might also say something. The same goes for Bortkiewicz.

The difference is their approach: while the "5" believed that symphonies, as well as any form of musical learning, were the the works of a West to be despised, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff had a much wider outlook. Even such a Western-looking composer as Rubinstein has his "Russian" works, like the Russian Capriccio and an opera or two on Russian subjects. Rimsky-Korsakov is an interesting example, as he began as his friends of the "5", but eventually realised that lack of study did not produce good music, national or not, and "sold his soul", at it were.

I believe that what happens with Cui, Medtner and Schnittke (a modern composer, of course) is that they were not ethnic Russians, but the children of immigrants. You yourself have mentioned Medtner's "Germanness". The only one who seems to sound really Russian while being the child of immigrants is Glier (or Glière, as the composer liked to be called). I say this not because I believe it is in the blood, but because the child of immigrants often lives in a segregate society (there was, for example, a German Republic of the Volga, until dissolved by Stalin). This certainly was the case of Schnittke.

You mention Chopin and his mazurkas. This dance, as you have possibly noticed, is widespread over all the countries where there is a Slav population, which explains why Dvorak wrote some, as well as Tchaikovsky. The same goes for the dumka (plural dumki) and we have dumkas written by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and even Chopin!

Borodin, with his Polovitsian Dances, as well as Rimsky-Korsakov in Sheherazade and Antar, are indulging in what the Russians call not "Nationalism", but "Orientalism", that is, drawing on the music of minorities within the empire or even from Arabia itself.

Liszt was also the chid of immigrants (original spelling List) and could not speak a word of Hungarian. He confused Hungarian with Gypsy (called in Hungarian Verbunkos and was the same error Brahms was to commit with such disatrous consequences to his pocket) and his Hungarian Rhapsodies should by rights be called Gypsy Rhapsodies. Enescu also fell into this trap, where, in his 1st Romanian Rhapsody, he quotes "The Lark", a very famous Gypsy violin piece which is in the repertoire of Sandor Lakatos and his Gypsy Band, for example. Bartok has the merit of having discovered the real Hungarian music, a music that has little to do with Gypsy orchestras and virtuoso violin passages.

By the way, I came across yesterday in a shop the complete piano music of Ljadov.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:22 pm 
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Hi Richard,

Thanks for adding so many thoughts on the subject of nationalistic music. I does tend to be a nebulous world at times. Yes, I would have to agree that Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff reflected nationalism in their music, but more as a matter of degree. They held a wider world view than those who were focused more narrowly like The Five.

You mention "Orientalism". That's the very reason I didn't mention Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade", as prominent a work as it is, in the examples I gave so as not to confuse the issue! Like you I should have probably commented on it.

I totally agree with you on your point about composers whose parents were immigrants to Russia like Cui and Medtner. Catoire was Russian born, but of French immigrant parents, and he was raised in Russia by them as they pursued business interests there. That cultural isolation to which you refer is evident to me in Catoire's music, which makes it very distinctive. Yet Catoire became highly respected and his books and scholarly articles on composition are still used in Russian conservatories and universities to this day.

And yes, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies would more properly be titled Gypsy Rhapsodies.

I recently saw a reference to that volume of Liadoff's complete piano works you mentioned here. I'm sure it will be a fine addition to your music library. There would be enough material in there to keep a pianist busy for a very long time!

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:32 pm 
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Great discussion.

Yet I stubbornly maintain that Cui's preludes sound inherently Russian and could not have come from anywhere else. Not nationalistic then, but in terms of sounding sonorous and pianistic as only the Russians (both native and imported) can.

I assume that 'Liadov volume' is the Koenemann complete Liadov in 6 volumes ? Or is it 5, can't remember. That is what I have and sure it is a treasure trove. I'm currently digging into it again, to replace some of my early recordings.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:57 am 
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richard66 wrote:
Liszt was also the chid of immigrants (original spelling List) and could not speak a word of Hungarian. He confused Hungarian with Gypsy (called in Hungarian Verbunkos and was the same error Brahms was to commit with such disatrous consequences to his pocket) and his Hungarian Rhapsodies should by rights be called Gypsy Rhapsodies.


It's actually even more complex than that. Some of the music Liszt heard played by the Zigeuner bands originated from Magyar folk melody, but some of their music was an appropriation of popular melodies by minor Hungarian composers of the day. This caused Liszt no end of trouble in the press, as some of these composers understandably resented Liszt's implicit misattribution of their melodies. (There is a good section on this in the second volume of Alan Walker's Liszt biography.)


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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:34 am 
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andrew wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Liszt was also the chid of immigrants (original spelling List) and could not speak a word of Hungarian. He confused Hungarian with Gypsy (called in Hungarian Verbunkos and was the same error Brahms was to commit with such disatrous consequences to his pocket) and his Hungarian Rhapsodies should by rights be called Gypsy Rhapsodies.


It's actually even more complex than that. Some of the music Liszt heard played by the Zigeuner bands originated from Magyar folk melody, but some of their music was an appropriation of popular melodies by minor Hungarian composers of the day. This caused Liszt no end of trouble in the press, as some of these composers understandably resented Liszt's implicit misattribution of their melodies. (There is a good section on this in the second volume of Alan Walker's Liszt biography.)


That is more or less what happened to Brahms and his Hungarian Dances, except it was the bandmasters themselves who took legal action.

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Last edited by richard66 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:39 am 
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techneut wrote:
Great discussion.

Yet I stubbornly maintain that Cui's preludes sound inherently Russian and could not have come from anywhere else. Not nationalistic then, but in terms of sounding sonorous and pianistic as only the Russians (both native and imported) can.

I assume that 'Liadov volume' is the Koenemann complete Liadov in 6 volumes ? Or is it 5, can't remember. That is what I have and sure it is a treasure trove. I'm currently digging into it again, to replace some of my early recordings.


Actually it was a CD I saw, not the scores!

On Cui I did notice something interesting: I did mention earlier some Russian composers of the XVIII century, with links. I have a recording of Cui's 5 pieces for flute (sorry if I make you wince! :mrgreen: ), viola and piano. These are cast in "the ancient style" and do they not sound just like the works of these XVIII century Russian composers? It also reminded me vaguely of Tchaikovsky's imitations of "old music".

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Last edited by richard66 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Cui - Two Preludes
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:44 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Richard,

Thanks for adding so many thoughts on the subject of nationalistic music. I does tend to be a nebulous world at times. Yes, I would have to agree that Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff reflected nationalism in their music, but more as a matter of degree. They held a wider world view than those who were focused more narrowly like The Five.

You mention "Orientalism". That's the very reason I didn't mention Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade", as prominent a work as it is, in the examples I gave so as not to confuse the issue! Like you I should have probably commented on it.

I totally agree with you on your point about composers whose parents were immigrants to Russia like Cui and Medtner. Catoire was Russian born, but of French immigrant parents, and he was raised in Russia by them as they pursued business interests there. That cultural isolation to which you refer is evident to me in Catoire's music, which makes it very distinctive. Yet Catoire became highly respected and his books and scholarly articles on composition are still used in Russian conservatories and universities to this day.

And yes, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies would more properly be titled Gypsy Rhapsodies.

I recently saw a reference to that volume of Liadoff's complete piano works you mentioned here. I'm sure it will be a fine addition to your music library. There would be enough material in there to keep a pianist busy for a very long time!

David


As most terms in music, "nationalistic" does not reflect the reality, the same as "romantic" or "classical.

Thank you for reminding me of Catoire!

I later on looked Gliere up: He was an exception in that his mother was from Russia (Ukraine), which might explain why he sounds Russian.

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