Russian pianist Ilya Rashkovskiy performs Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, Op.13, Frédéric Chopin's 3 Mazurkas, Op.59, & Igor Stravinsky's Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka. Recorded at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, on May 13, 2011.
Since its inception in 1974, the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition is one of the foremost Piano Competitions in the world. Arthur Rubinstein, who gave his blessing to the competition, headed the jury of the first two competitions (1974 & 1977). The competition is held every three years in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Robert Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Op.13
The Symphonic Etudes (French: Études Symphoniques), Op.13, is a group of piano etudes published by Robert Schumann in 1837. The theme on which they were crafted had been sent to Schumann by Baron von Fricken, guardian of Ernestine von Fricker, who had been Schumann's fiancee at one point. The final, twelfth, published etude was a variation on the theme from the Romance Du stolzes England freue dich, from Heinrich Marschner's opera Der Templer und die Jüdin, which was based on Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (as a tribute to Schumann's English friend, William Sterndale Bennett). The earlier Fricken theme occasionally appears briefly during this étude. A good number of these Etudes were conceived as variations, and so, fifteen years later, a second edition of the work saw the pieces that did not correspond to the variation form eliminated from the set. Some revisions were made to the piano writing as well. The highly virtuosic demands of the piano writing are frequently aimed not merely at effect but at clarification of the polyphonic complexity and at delving more deeply into keyboard experimentation. The Etudes are considered to be one of the most difficult works for piano by Schumann (together with his Fantasie in C major, Op.17) and in piano literature as a whole. On republishing the set in 1890, Johannes Brahms restored the five variations that had been cut by Schumann. These are now often played, but in positions within the cycle that vary somewhat with each performance; there are now twelve variations and these five so-called "posthumous" variations which exist as a supplement.
Frédéric Chopin: 3 Mazurkas, Op.59
Although Chopin spent most of his adult life Paris, his roots were Polish. In homage to his homeland, he developed two genres of music, the polonaise and the mazurka. The mazurka takes much of its form from the native folk songs and dances of Poland, specifically the Mazur, the Kujawiak, and the Oberek. The unusual rhythmic patterns and irregular accents provided the basis for 57 mazurkas in total, each unique in character and texture. Because of the different sources of inspiration for the mazurka, each piece is a different combination of several ingredients of rhythm, harmony, tempo, and mood. This particular genre, more than any other, encouraged Chopin to revise and experiment freely. Unlike many of his other mazurkas collections, the pieces of Op.59 do not contrast greatly amongst themselves. They share similar characteristics and textures, perhaps meant to unify the collection. The first piece in the set is highly chromatic, warm and rich in melodic and contrapuntal nuances. It serves as a tender portrait, the ending as unassuming as the opening. Pleasant and good-natured in its character, the second mazurka features a rich exchange between hands, a hallmark of Chopin's mature style. This piece ends with an ascending, winding lyrical line, which seems to disappear into the clouds. Resembling a polonaise, the third composition is noble and waltz-like in character. Having experimented with different contrapuntal devices, Chopin includes chromaticism, as well as some interesting descending chromatic chords in the accompaniment. While much interesting harmonic material is found in the lower voices, this particular composition is defined by the unaffected, expressive singing melody appears to be unaffected, soaring above the texture below.
Source: Kristen Grimshaw (allmusic.com)
Igor Stravinsky: Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka
It was mostly at the urging of then 34 year old pianist Arthur Rubinstein (the "urging" was really an offer of 5000 francs – serious money for a composer reeling from the effects of the First World War) that, in 1921, Igor Stravinsky set about converting three portions of his already famous ballet Petrushka into a three-movement vehicle for solo piano. And yet, despite the lavish attention to orchestral detail that fills every measure of the ballet, it is not at all difficult to imagine the work in pianistic terms: Stravinsky's first sketches of Petrushka (from the summer of 1910) took the form of a concerto for piano and orchestra, and it was only at the urging of impresario Diaghilev that he rerouted his energies into a theatrical vein and produced the work that now is so well-known. Strangely enough, Rubinstein never recorded these Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka, though accounts of his many live performances of the piece testify to his close sympathy with the music.
The three numbers that Stravinsky selected to arrange are, in the order they appear, the "Russian Dance" from the end of the first tableau, "Petrushka's Cell" from the second tableau, and, incorporating almost all of the fourth tableau (including the ending published in the 1947 revision of the ballet), "The Shrove-tide Fair". Everywhere the pianism is brilliantly choreographed (the work is certainly tremendously difficult to bring off, but always packs a wallop when done well), and the transcription to the keyboard is carried out with a finesse not usually encountered in a composer's translation of his own music (usually a certain amount of distance, psychologically speaking, is helpful in successfully carrying out such a translation; hence Franz Liszt's many spectacular piano transcriptions of music utterly foreign to his own compositional style): here is no mere "piano reduction", but rather a full-blown, independent concert work in which the electric, vaguely symmetrical sixteenth-note figurations and sharp orchestral articulations of the "Russian Dance" are reforged into a demanding test of finger dexterity (the "Russian Dance", in its original orchestral form, is actually reinforced by a dramatic, nonstop use of the piano) and, later on, the famous oscillating contrary thirds of strings and woodwinds that open "The Shrove-tide Fair" (clearly originally conceived of at the piano) are translated into a shimmering and wholly idiomatic keyboard figuration that is almost – but not quite – the equal of its orchestral counterpart.
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
XIII Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, 2011 / Stage I
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
♪ Symphonic Etudes, Op.13 (1834)
i. Theme – Andante
ii. Etude I (Variation 1) – Un poco più vivo
iii. Etude II (Variation 2) – Andante
iv. Etude III – Vivace
v. Etude IV (Variation 3) – Allegro marcato
vi. Etude V (Variation 4) – Scherzando
vii. Etude VI (Variation 5) – Agitato
viii. Etude VII (Variation 6) – Allegro molto
ix. Etude VIII (Variation 7) – Sempre marcatissimo
x. Etude IX – Presto possibile
xi. Etude X (Variation 8) – Allegro con energia
xii. Etude XI (Variation 9) – Andante espressivo
xiii. Etude XII (Finale) – Allegro brillante (based on Marschner's theme)
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
♪ 3 Mazurkas, Op.59 (1845)
No.1 in A minor
No.2 in A flat major
No.3 in F sharp minor
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
♪ Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka (1921)
i. Danse Russe
ii. Chez Petrouchka
iii. La semaine grasse
Ilya Rashkovskiy, piano
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, May 13, 2011
Ilya Rashkovskiy (b. 1984, Irkutsk, Russia) is the first prize winner of the following competitions: the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (first prize and Public Prize, Japan, 2012), the Citta di Pinerolo Competition (Italy, 2012), the International Jaen Competition (Spain, 2005), and at the Hong Kong International Competition (2005). He is among the top prize winners of the Long – J. Thibaud Competition in Paris (2nd Place), Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (4th Place) and Artur Rubinstein Piano Masters in Tel Aviv (3rd Place).
When he was only five years old, Ilya Rashkovskiy began to play piano. A year later, he began to compose. At the age of eight, he gave his first concert with the Irkusk Chamber Orchestra. From 1993 to 2000 he studied at the Novosibirsk State Conservatory with Professor Mary Lebenzon. From 2000 to 2009 he studied at the Musikhochschule in Hannover with Professor Vladimir Krainev and finally at the École Normale Supérieure Alfred Cortot in Paris with Professor Marian Rybicki.
Passionate about orchestra conducting and composition, he followed the teachings of Dominique Rouits and Michel Merlet.
Ilya performed in several prestigious concert venues throughout the world, such as the Théatre du Châtelet, the Salle Playel, the Cologne Philharmonic Hall, the Essen Philharmonic Hall, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. He was invited to perform at the Joy of Music Festival in Hong Kong, the International Piano Festival in La Roque d'Anthéron and the International Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdroj (Poland).
He collaborated as a soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre national de Lille, the Gulbenkian Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Romanian National Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the New Japan Symphony Orchestra, the State Academic Orchestra of the Russian Federation, the National Philharmonic of Ukraine and the Montevideo Symphony Orchestra among many others.
In 2016, he gave several concerts in Russia, notably with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in Saint Petersburg. He also participated in the gala concert organized as a tribute to Sergei Prokofiev at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of the Moscow State Philharmonic Society. Furthermore, he recently performed at the Verdi Hall in Milan as well as the Salle Gaveau in Paris.
Ilya Rashkovskiy is a great chamber music admirer and he gladly shares the stages with violinists such as Ji-Yoon Park, Valeriy Sokolov and Andrej Bielow. He also collaborates with singers such as Brigitte Balleys and Orianne Moretti.
He is also actively engaged in fostering younger talents and has given master classes on several occasions in Hong Kong, New Zealand and France. He has been invited as a judge at International Piano Competition Animato for last three editions in Paris.
His last CD with the works of Russian composers (Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky) was released in October 2016 (La Musica, France). In 2015, he recorded A. Scriabin's complete piano sonatas in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of composers's death (NAR, Japan). He also recorded the Seasons and Sonata in C sharp minor by Tchaikovsky (Naxos Label, 2008), Fantasies by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt and Scriabin (Alpha Omega Music Hong Kong, 2009), as well as Chopin's Complete Études in 2013 (Victor Japan).
|Arthur Rubinstein in 1970 © Eva Rubinstein|
One of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Rubinstein was gifted enough to recognize the technical shortcomings of his extrovert, youthful playing, and to re-learn his repertoire in mid-life, adding control and discipline to the natural flair that had made his reputation. Linked to the 19th-century Romantics through his champion Joseph Joachim, he nevertheless established a modern, clean-cut and unaffected style of pianism, while, in the music of Brahms and Chopin in particular, retaining a warmth of tone and manner. As well as his solo appearances, he gave frequent chamber music recitals and continued to perform in public until the age of nearly ninety.
2017 marks the 15th edition of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, named in honor of one of the 20th century's greatest pianists and founded by one of his friends, Jan Jacob Bistritzky, in 1974. Taking place every three years in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, the competition aims to discover talented young pianists. During its 43 year history, it has become one of the world's most influential piano competitions, and includes among its past prizewinners some of today's most important artists, from Emanuel Ax, who won the very first competition, to Daniil Trifonov, the 2011 winner.