TANEYEV Piano Quintet Pletnev


Piano Quintet op. 30

Piano Trio op. 22
Vadim Repin · Ilya Gringolts
Nobuko Imai · Lynn Harrell
Mikhail Pletnev
Int. Release 01 Jul. 2005
0289 477 5419 0
CD DDD 0289 477 5419 0 GH
"He was the key figure in Russian musical history, the greatest polyphonist after Bach. . . look who his pupils were: Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Prokofiev."Mikhail Pletnev to The Independent (UK) about Sergei Taneyev

Track List

Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev (1856 - 1915)
Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 30


Vadim Repin, Ilya Gringolts, Nobuko Imai, Lynn Harrell, Mikhail Pletnev

Piano Trio In D, Op.22


Vadim Repin, Nobuko Imai, Mikhail Pletnev

Total Playing Time 1:22:28

Mikhail Pletnev is mercurial here [in the Scherzo of the Piano Quintet], conveying its wit and finesse to perfection . . . These are performances that are in every respect consummate in their artistry, which are hardly likely to be matched let alone surpassed. A very vivid recording.

Yet one can also only sit back in wonderment as violinist Ilya Gringolts and Nobuko Imai (viola) join their DG colleagues for a performance of the Op. 30 Piano Quintet of the most exquisite sophistication and expertise . . . a highly impressive interpretation.

Mikhail Pletnev is a passionate advocate of the music of Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915), whom he holds to be one of the major figures in Russian music. As a conductor he has introduced many of us to Taneyev's orchestra music . . . and now, as pianist with a spectacular galaxy of instrumentalists, he does two of the chamber works full justice. A wonderful disc.

. . . this really is an object lesson in the ideal performance of Russian music. The disc plays for almost 83 minutes, providing some of the most realistic-sounding chamber music I have heard. I fervently recommend it.

The music is well served by their ardor, even a slight roughness, neither of which obscures the underlying current of lyricism: Mr. Pletnev's crystalline playing, Mr. Repin's singing violin. If Taneyev's music lacks the kind of individual quirkiness of imagination that might have made it better known to posterity, these performers do their best to supply it.

With a stellar team of string-players, he delivers performances of the Piano Quintet and Piano Trio that seethe with conviction; likewise the reading of "At the Reading of a Psalm", Taneyev's second cantata and his last masterpiece, an epic monument of a score that marries the dignity of Russian church music with the emotional immediacy of Italian opera. It's one of the finest things in all music, and it never had a recording that burned with such passion.

The pianist Mikhail Pletnev's new album is a heroic effort to compensate for years of international neglect; he recruits a formidable crew, offering passionate, virtuosic, and seamlessly integrated performances of the Piano Quintet and the Piano Trio. The Quintet is especially persuasive, lasting almost forty-five minutes, it merges German technique and Russian lyricism into a towering edifice of sound.

the best value for the money . . . The recording is excellent.

. . . the Pletnev performances are undeniably thrilling, and have attracted considerable critical acclaim . . . and since the DG disc includes the only currently available recording of the epic Piano Quintet, no one interested Taneyev will want to pass it up.

Sergej Taneyev, der Lehrer von Skrjabin und Rachmaninow, schrieb ausladende, opulente Kammermusikwerke für Streicher und Klavier voller eigenbrötlerischer Kontrapunktik und polyphoner Anlage, die manchmal regelrecht brahmsisch klingen. Pianist Mikhail Pletnev & Freunde setzen sich mit Nachdruck für deren Neuentdeckung ein.

Sergej Tanejew (1856-1915) hat außerordentlich niveauvolle Kammermusik für Kenner und Liebhaber geschrieben. Für Kenner, die abschätzen können, was sich den traditionellen Ausdrucksformen noch abgewinnen lässt, ohne sie zu strapazieren, für Liebhaber, die sich ohne Ungeduld dem leicht melancholischen Grundton öffnen. Die Einspielungen bestechen durch eine spieltechnisch souveräne, klangvolle und draufgängerische Virtuosität. Zugleich besitzt die Interpretation eine spannungsvolle Intensität, die freilich stets auf die Musik bezogen bleibt.

Tanejew? Ja, der Schüler Tschaikowskys, der Lehrer Skrjabins und Rachmaninows, ein Sonderling erster Güte, der hierzulande kaum bekannt ist. Der Pianist und Dirigent Mikhail Pletnev setzt sich für ihn ein, nach einer CD mit zwei Chor-Orchester-Werken jetzt mit einer Aufnahme der beiden kammermusikalischen Grossformate. Wie stets tut er es auf höchstem Niveau; mit Vadim Repin und Ilya Gringolts (Violinen), mit Nobuko Imai (Viola) und Lynn Harrell (Violoncello) hat er sich prominente Partner gesucht, die ihn in seinem Bemühen um den russischen Brahms mit Emphase und saftigem Ton unterstützen.

Marquée par une pensée profonde et un puissant pathétisme intérieur, elle révèle un style magistral et une maîtrise suprême de l¿harmonie comme de la polyphonie . . . une rafraîchissante note de fantaisie, l¿écriture apparaît souvent majestueuse, usant d¿un langage totalement original . . . ce Mikhail Pletnev, entouré d¿un quatuor d¿élite, en livre une vision d¿une formidable vitalité, les cinq interprètes prenant à bras le corps chacun des quatre mouvements, en soulignant leur caractère romanesque et même souvent héroïque. Avec un lyrisme généreux et une impétuosité totalement contrôlée, le dialogue des cordes et du piano atteint une admirable cohérence, la juste matité de la prise de son préservant l¿identité de chacune des voix . . . Là encore la cohésion, l¿élan et la suprême maîtrise instrumentale des interprètes font merveille, Vadim Repin et Lynn Harrell apportent une réplique pleine de personnalité et de verve au clavier souverain de Mikhail Pletnev. Deux ¿uvres rares et de fort belle facture à découvrir sous les doigts d¿interprètes d¿exception.

Grande présence, timbres superbes
On mésestime aujourd¿hui encore l¿¿uvre du compositeur russe et il est réconfortant de voir des interprètes de cette stature nous faire apprécier autre chose que le répertoire symphonique de l¿auteur de l¿Orestie ou l¿un de ses (excellents) quatuors à cordes. L¿ampleur et la violence du Quintette pour piano et cordes (1911) rapproche l¿écriture de Serge Taneiev des univers brahmsien en ce qui concerne l¿harmonie et beethovénien sur le plan rythmique. Les solistes évitent heureusement une lecture concertante qui privilégierait le piano au détriment des cordes. Ils respectent ainsi une dimension presque symphonique, divisant « l¿orchestre » en groupes de solistes . . . Mikhail Pletnev et Nobuko Imaï, notamment, sont impériaux. Le largo, si beethovénien, révèle un chant élégiaque profondément original et le finale renoue avec la vivacité du scherzo. Comment ne pas songer une fois encore à Ludwig van Beethoven ? . . . Chacun joue ici avec un plaisir manifeste . . .

. . . Taneyev posee . . . una sensibilidad dotada de instinto, que le permite conectar sutilmente con el oyente, sin caer nunca en la empalagosidad ni en la reiteración vacua, envolviéndole de tal manera que cuando quiere darse cuenta, ya ha sido atrapado por su encanto, exactamente igual que les ha sucedido a los intérpretes de este disco.

Gran música felizmente recuperada y exquisitamente interpretada.
Chamber Masterpieces by a Russian Maverick

Which late 19th-century composer showed little interest in his fellow Russians' individual musical styles but was fascinated by those of 16th-century Renaissance composers, and by strict counterpoint, on which he would write a massive treatise? Which Russian composer chose the subject for his only opera neither from a Russian source nor from a typical Western one, but took instead the ancient Greek story of Orestes, from Aeschylus' Oresteia? Who was possibly the first composer to set texts in Esperanto? Who was the solo pianist in the premieres of nearly all Tchaikovsky's works for piano and orchestra? Which former Tchaikovsky pupil was the one person from whom he, Tchaikovsky, sought critical comment on his own works? Who was probably the greatest of all Russian composition teachers? Who was the Russian composer with whom Tolstoy's wife fell passionately in love, though without that composer being in the least aware of it? Which Russian composer insisted that, when Tchaikovsky visited and wanted to smoke, he should do so by the chimney in the next room? Which Russian composer - and this is probably the most intriguing question of all - was a teetotaler?

The answer to all nine of these is: Sergey Taneyev - and already this reveals much about him personally. He was in fact a very capable, highly respected individual, an excellent pianist and teacher, but also something of a maverick. Born in 1856, he was enrolled in the Moscow Conservatory to study piano when only ten years old, and within three years also became a composition pupil of Tchaikovsky. On the latter's resignation from the conservatory in 1878, Taneyev, though only 22 years old, replaced him. From 1885 to 1889 he was the conservatory's director, and subsequently continued teaching counterpoint. Among his pupils were Scriabin and Rachmaninov.

From 1889 Taneyev had more time to create, and his remaining years would be devoted mainly to composing chamber music - in all, over a dozen substantial pieces for strings, some on a very large scale, and half also involving the piano so that he could take part in the concerts. He died in 1915 of pneumonia contracted after attending Scriabin's funeral.

Taneyev was a slow worker (and here his maverick side emerges), and the very opposite of the two greatest of his Russian contemporaries, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, both of whom, when inspiration was white-hot, composed at prodigious speed and often thus produced their greatest pieces. Taneyev worked more like an artisan, first planning the entire piece, then proceeding "not by composing the whole out of the separate successive parts, but by going from the whole to the details," as he himself put it. It sounds a very intellectual, rational approach, and one unlikely to produce highly personal music (as happened with Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky). To call Taneyev a Russian Brahms, as some have done, is going too far, but in many ways, and especially in these later works, he had a certain affinity with the German master. Nevertheless, he was far from becoming a Brahms clone, for his unorthodox composing strategy was guarantee enough that the results would be very much his own.

Of the two works presented here, the Piano Trio in D major (1908) is perhaps closer to Brahms. It is no surprise that, coming from a composer so preoccupied with counterpoint, its melodic quotient is high and, with two string instruments so pre-eminently melodic, duetting is duly exploited, producing a full-toned and expansive sonata-form first movement. Any Brahmsian affinities are far less apparent in the Scherzo. There is a touch of engaging roughness about this robust movement, and a very real surprise in store: instead of the conventional central Trio section, Taneyev presents us with a dozen or so swift variations on a tiny theme, the later ones becoming increasingly extended and finally returning us to the familiar Scherzo music. The remaining two movements are more regular, the Andante being largely an eloquent colloquy between the two string instruments. It passes straight into the Finale, another large sonata-form movement, whose opening theme takes its departure from one in the slow movement, now hugely accelerated and virtually unrecognizable - there will also be other fleeting allusions to earlier themes. Shortly before the Finale's end the momentum is suddenly disrupted as the three players reflect imitatively on this same idea, while the brilliant coda recalls the theme that had opened the whole Trio.

The Piano Trio is a very long piece, the Piano Quintet (1911) even longer. With two additional instruments, Taneyev can now readily compose passages for the strings alone, and the textural possibilities are correspondingly wider. The extensive slow introduction foreshadows some of the material to come in the main body of the first movement. Orientating oneself through this massive sonata structure is not easy, but there is one signal (six loudly repeated bass notes from the piano) heard twice and marking the beginnings of, respectively, the recapitulation (about two-thirds of the way through) and the coda. After such a full-blooded movement the piquant refinement of the Scherzo seems all the more magical, and it makes a splendid foil to the lovely melody of the central trio section. Next comes an equally remarkable slow passacaglia, built upon some 40 repetitions, mainly in the bass, of a theme made up from a descending scale with two tiny rhythmic insertions, above (or around) which Taneyev composes his own original music. This is Taneyev at his greatest, fashioning a magisterial and wonderfully original movement. The furious Finale is more relaxed, incorporating memories of some of the Quintet's earlier themes. At the end there is an extensive revisiting of one of the most important themes from the first movement, which thus frames the whole quintet. A coda as grand as Taneyev can engineer from five soloists rounds off this hugely impressive piece.

David Brown