a series of one-hour radio programs produced, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2011 by Fred Flaxman
MUSIC: excerpt from the beginning of the finale of Lyapunov: Sextet, Op. 63 performed by The Dante Quartet with pianist John Thwaites and bassist Leon Bosch [Dutton Digital CDSA 6880, Track 4] [under the following]
Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your
guide, Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll explore
the romantic music of my very latest compact discovery: the Russian
composer and pianist, Sergei Lyapunov. We’ll hear two complete works by
him: his superb, unusual, 35-minute long Sextet, Opus 63, and his Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes for Piano and Orchestra.
MUSIC: Fades out
Lyapunov lived from 1859 until 1924. He graduated the Moscow
Conservatory in 1883, where he was more attracted by the nationalist
elements in music of the New Russian School than by the more
cosmopolitan approach of Tchaikovsky. He went to St. Petersburg in 1885
to seek out Mily Balakirev, the self-appointed leader of that movement,
and became the most important member of that composer’s latter-day
circle. And Balakirev’s influence remained the dominant factor in
Lyapunov’s creative life along with Franz Liszt.
In 1893 the Imperial Geographical Society commissioned Lyapunov, along
with Balakirev and Lyadov, to gather folk songs from the regions of
northern Russian. They collected nearly 300 songs, which the society
published in 1897. Lyapunov arranged 30 of these songs for voice and
piano and used authentic folk songs in several of his compositions
during the 1890s.
He succeeded Rimsky-Korsakov as assistant director of music at the
Imperial Chapel, became a director of the Free Music School, then its
head, as well as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in
1911. After the Russian Revolution, he emigrated to Paris in 1923 and
directed a school of music for Russian émigrés. He died of a heart
attack the following year at the age of 64.
When you hear the beautiful music of Lyapunov, you may wonder why he is
not better known. A one word answer to that question might be
“Stravinsky.” Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird premiered in 1910, Petrushka in 1911, and the Rite of Spring in 1913. This was the modern, 20th Century music that was getting all the headlines at the time.
By comparison, Lyapunov’s Sextet, which we’ll hear now, was
composed in 1915 and revised in 1921. Listening to this music without
knowing who composed it or when, you might well guess that it was
written sometime before the year 1900. In any case, like the music of
Sergei Rachmaninoff, who was also a Russian contemporary of
Stravinsky’s, this romantic work deserves to be appreciated for what it
is, whenever it was written.
The Dante Quartet from London, England, is joined in this performance
by pianist John Thwaites and bassist Leon Bosch on this Dutton Digital
compact disc release.
MUSIC: Lyapunov: Sextet, Op. 63, performed by The Dante Quartet with pianist John Thwaites and bassist Leon Bosch [Dutton Digital CDSA 6880, Tracks 1-4]
Sergei Lyapunov’s Sextet, Opus 63, was performed by the Dante Quartet with pianist John Thwaites and bassist Leon Bosch.
Lyapunov enjoyed a successful career as a pianist as well as a
composer. From 1904 he also made appearances as a conductor. He wrote
two piano concertos and a Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes, which
was also for piano and orchestra. Like Lyapunov’s piano concertos, it
reflects the influence of Franz Liszt, particularly in the virtuoso
Let’s hear that work now as performed by pianist Hamish Milne with the
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins on a
Hyperion compact disc.
MUSIC: Lyapunov: Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes, Op. 28
performed by the pianist Hamish Milne with the BBC Scottish Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins [Hyperion CDA67326, tracks 6 - 9]
Sergei Lyapunov’s Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes, Op. 28 performed by the pianist Hamish Milne with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins.
And that concludes this hour devoted to the music of the Russian
composer Sergei Lyapunov. This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for
listening. Please join me again next time for more Compact Discoveries!
ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Book Publishers and their latest offering, a tongue-in-cheek memoir by Compact Discoveries
host Fred Flaxman called “Sixty Slices of Life ... on Wry: The Private
Life of a Public Broadcaster.” And by the financial support of Isabel
and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida.
And by contributions to local public radio stations by listeners like
you. Thank you.
Total Program Timing: 59:20