LIADOV: Piano Miniatures
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Anatol KonstantinovichLiadov (1855 -1914)
Anatol KonstantinovichLiadov was born into a musical family. His grandfather had been a musician andhis father was, for eighteen years, until 1868, conductor at the MaryinskyTheatre in St. Petersburg, where his son was born in 1855.
The Rubinsteinbrothers, Anton and Nikolay, had established conservatories of music in St.
Petersburg and Moscow in the 1860s. In this necessary venture they were opposedby the nationalist composers grouped round Balakirev and advised by thepolymath Stasov. Anton had, with some justification, criticised the amateurismof the group, while Stasov, on the other hand, feared the professionalregimentation of German-style conservatories.
Liadov learned musicfirst from his father but was to benefit from the initiative of theRubinsteins, entering the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1870. His earlystudies in piano and violin were soon replaced by lessons in counterpoint fromJohannsen and in composition from Rimsky-Korsakov, although the latter were cutshort when he was expelled from the class for unexcused absences. He resumedhis study of composition in 1878 and graduated the following year with asetting of part of Schiller's Bride of Messina.
After the completionof his studies, Liadov was employed at the Conservatory as a teacher ofelementary theory, later taking over the classes in counterpoint. He resignedin 1905 at the time of Rimsky-Korsakov's dismissal, after the studentdisturbances of that year, with which Rimsky-Korsakov had expressed somesympathy. He resumed his position when Rimsky-Korsakov was reinstated, withGlazunov replacing the former director.
Even as a boy ofeighteen Liadov had made an impression on Mussorgsky, who described him as anew and unmistakably Russian talent and he collaborated with other members ofthe Mighty Handful of nationalist composers, the Five, in a light-hearted setof variations, Parafrazi, on a commonplace theme, a contribution that delightedLiszt, who used it as a demonstration piece for his pupils.
At first Liadov hadreceived encouragement from Balakirev, then emerging from a period of silence,but still inspired by an uncomfortable religious zeal. In the 1880s, however,he became one of the first to join the circle of musicians assembled byBelyayev, serving as adviser on the publications that the latter paid for andsharing the responsibility for the concern with Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunovafter Belyayev's death in 1904. The association with Belyayev brought theinevitable hostility of Balakirev, who saw the activities of Belyayev as anintrusion on his own territory.
As a composer Liadovwas less hard-working than he might have been. His tendency to procrastinationwas seen in his failure to provide music for Dyagilev's planned and advertisedballet The Firebird, a failure that gave Stravinsky his first importantopportunity. Asked by Dyagilev how his work on the score was progressing,Liadov is said to have replied that matters were well in hand and that he hadjust bought some ruled paper. Dyagilev was to make use of some of Liadov'smusic after the latter's death in 1914, and much that he wrote seemedparticularly well suited to the ballet. A group of pieces were used by Massinefor his ballet Russian Fairy-tales in 1917.
Liadov was a talentedpianist and during the course of his life he wrote a number of piano pieces.
Short pieces of this kind suited his talent and his inclinations very well,since here, with limited exertion, he was able to show his mastery of form and expressionin miniature. Among the first of these pieces was the set of 14 shortminiatures under the title Birywlki or Spillikins, composed in1876, while he was student at St. Petersburg Conservatory. In the same year hebegan a set of six pieces, completed in 1877, and including three Mazurkas,while 1878 brought a set of four pieces under the title Arabesques, with twofurther Mazurkas in the set of pieces of 1884 that form Opus 10. In Opus 11, agroup of three pieces, came further Mazurkas, preceded by a Prelude.
Kukolki ('Marionettes'), Opus 29, was written in 1892,another example of Liadov's gift for miniatures in the manner of some RussianSchumann or Chopin. Opus 40, written in 1897, consisted of an Etude and threePreludes.
The F sharp major Barcarolleof Opus 44 was written in 1898, while the Variations on a Polish Song, Opus 51,written in 1901, are characteristic of the composer's use of an existing melodyas the basis of composition. Opus 64, written in 1909 and 1910, consists offour pieces, Grimace, Sumrak ('Ten?â?¿bres'), Iskusheniye
('Temptation') and Vospominaniye ('Reminiscences'), suggesting anawareness of the work of composers like Skryabin in its extensions oftraditional harmonic practice.
Monique Duphil studiedin Paris at the Conservatoire National Superieur with Marguerite Long, JeanDoyen and Joseph Calvet, winning the Premier Prix in piano at the age of 15 andcompleting her studies there the following year with the chamber music GrandPrix. She undertook further study in Germany with Vladimir Horbowski and wonprizes in four international competitions, including the Warsaw ChopinCompetition, before embarking on a career that has taken her to more than fiftycountries. She has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras that include theCleveland, Philadelphia, Warsaw, Bern, Mexico State, Tokyo Metropolitan,Bavarian Radio, Sydney and New Zealand orchestras, under conductors of thedistinction of Ormandy, Markevich, Dutoit, Maxim Shostakovich and Sanderling.
As a chamber music player she has appeared with Szeryng, Ricci, Rampal,Fournier, and on many occasions in partnership with her husband, the cellistJay Humeston.