Thank you dearest Toddy (Todd A Harris). It’s a final word for the album to underline uniqueness of two men and their contribution to humanity.
“This album represents two of the greatest masterworks ever composed for the piano. One, the Mussorgsky’s “Pictures”, is the product of the Russian Culture at its zenith, and the other, the Schumann “Etudes” is birthed from the European Culture at its pinnacle. They are both amazing works, but uniquely expressive of their respective creator’s brilliant originality and individuality.
Mussorgsky produced a set of fresh and profoundly expressive musical paintings which utilize a kaleidoscopic toolset to produce an almost cinematic walk-thru of an exhibit that showcases nothing less than the whole of Russian culture at that time and place. The spectrum of ideas is expansive, and the whole of Russia’s grand horizons is addressed end to end in a bravely stated historical context. And the amazing part is that we get to experience the broad extent of philosophical and artistic thought through the soulful eyes of a great writer, an innovative composer, a gifted pianist wrapped into one; this work represents a monumental step forward in advancing the genre, both in terms of subject matter and required technique. This new form lends itself perfectly to allow for the intimate and vibrant expressiveness, the rich imagery, and panoramic depth this Russian piano composition effects and embraces. Modest Petrovich did not care about “self-expression” so much as he desired to capture a musical portrait of his homeland and to share it in his own way with the world.
The Schumann Etudes is an equally challenging and rewarding work. The product of formidable theoretical knowledgeable and towering pianistic ability, the Etudes pushed the boundaries of technical possibility and pioneered a unique technical style of musical writing which incorporated both artistry and philosophy within a uniquely personal style of musical storytelling. Part of the charm of Schumann is his ability to keep the listener engaged in a back-story long running theme while constantly layering in engaging local themes that dance and march and narrate the immediate musical text that captivate the ear. This layering produces an orchestra of sorts within the casement of a single piano. The music seems to engage multiples of piano, and even simulates a diverse range of instruments. This diversity of sound elevates the work from the stature of solo master score to one of polyphonic, poly-tonal virtuosity that effectively produces an almost cinematic spatial spectrum of sonorities. Written by a true master composer and concert virtuoso bearing a phenomenal technical skill, the fabric of the material is suggestive of someone possessing a multiplicity of hands, a Shiva-like figuration, penned upon a giant canvas for a mythical instrument. And yet the utopian beauty is actually possible for a single artist to master, provided he or she is equipped with the communicative skill to clearly articulate the consciousness contained within – one must honor and understand in Toto the content and its homage to romantic beauty and its romantic heritage, including European chivalry of the period.
Music such as contained in these works is not meant simply to be “played”. These works were created as utopian gifts to humanity, as messages to the future about life, living, invitations to think and dance with the mind and body, and of course, about love and loss. These works, and the contents within Taken altogether make for two”Everests of piano literature”, reincarnated in this album to their always rightful place: meditating upon the peak of the material and spiritual world.
It was my joy to bring these great men and their music back to life so we could share them together.”