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Does this not remind you of Tchaikovsky, and yet it was written when Haydn was alive and went unpublished till some years before this recording was made!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlluQpsU ...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!