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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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"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


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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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Richard Willmer
"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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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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"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


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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Richard Willmer
"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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".

_________________
Richard Willmer
"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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.

_________________
Richard Willmer
"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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