Sleeping Beauty Booklet

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					                    THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
     476 160-1
                      ALEXEI VOLODIN piano

        PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY 1840-1893 (arr. Mikhail Pletnev b.1957)
        Music from The Sleeping Beauty                                        [29’51]
    1   Prologue (Allegro molto)                                                 6’49
    2   Dance of the Pages (Allegro moderato)                                    1’56
    3   Vision (Presto)                                                         1’22
    4   Andante                                                                 4’59
    5   The Silver Fairy                                                         1’07
    6   Puss in Boots and the White Cat (Rubato assai)                           2’15
    7   Gavotte                                                                 0’59
    8   The Singing Canary (Vivo)                                               0’36
    9   Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (Allegro moderato)                          1’20
    0   Adagio (Andante non troppo)                                              4’44
    !   Finale (Allegro vivace)                                                 3’44

        PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (arr. Mikhail Pletnev)
        Concert Suite from The Nutcracker                                     [18’12]
    @   March (Tempo di marcia viva)                                            1’59
    £   Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Andante ma non troppo)                   1’59
    $   Tarantella                                                               1’19
    %   Intermezzo (Andante)                                                    4’16
    ^   Trepak: Russian Dance (Molto vivace)                                    1’12
    &   Tea: Chinese Dance (Allegro moderato)                                    1’19
    *   Andante maestoso                                                        6’08

        IGOR STRAVINSKY 1882-1971
        Three Movements from Petrushka (1921)                                 [16’29]
    (   Russian Dance                                                           2’47
    )   Petrushka’s Room                                                        4’34
    ¡   The Shrovetide Fair                                                     9’08

                                                         Total Playing Time    64’44

                                Alexei Volodin piano

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You have to hand a compact disc – capable of              illuminating, revealing inherent possibilities not      paraphrases. Illumination manifests itself in the        and a glockenspiel, with a divinely beautiful
bringing the expression and brilliance of a piano         apparent, or maybe not even available, in the           sonority and characterisation of which the piano         tone,’ he wrote home. Tchaikovsky expected ‘a
virtuoso into your living room, your office, even         original. And they continue to provide gratifying       is capable, and the results demonstrate the              colossal effect’ from the tiny celeste, and he had
your car. This is recorded sound, which                   virtuoso vehicles – allowing pianists the chance        combined strengths of Pletnev-pianist and                one sent to St Petersburg under strict secrecy –
Tchaikovsky described as ‘the most surprising,            to make an interpretative mark on some of the           Pletnev-conductor: the analytical intelligence,          terrified that Rimsky-Korsakov or Glazunov would
the most beautiful, and the most interesting              greatest music never written for the instrument.        the supreme clarity of technique, and an                 hear of it and use it first.) The following
among all inventions that have turned up in the                                                                   unparalleled ear for colour.                             movement is, like the Dance of the Sugar Plum
19th century’. But the music on the disc represents       Both the composer’s transcription and the
                                                                                                                                                                           Fairy, a variation from the Act II Pas de deux.
                                                          performer’s are represented in this recording:          Pletnev puts his stamp on these ballets in his
a tradition that Edison’s invention seemingly                                                                                                                              But where the Sugar Plum Fairy’s variation is
                                                          Stravinsky’s own of music from his ballet               compilation of the suites, which are striking in
rendered obsolete: the piano transcription.                                                                                                                                characterised by chiming delicacy, her Prince is
                                                          Petrushka, composed for Artur Rubinstein; and           their departure from the well-known orchestral
                                                                                                                                                                           given a vigorous Tarantella.
In the 19th century, the transcription was one of         Mikhail Pletnev’s transcriptions of The Nutcracker      suites. Both Pletnev’s suites, for example, omit
the principal ways of getting to know music.              and The Sleeping Beauty, intended for himself.          the ‘grand waltzes’ – the Waltz of the Flowers           The Intermezzo comes from the close of Act I.
Franz Liszt, for example, gave audiences                                                                          from The Nutcracker and the waltz from Act I of          The child Clara has saved the Nutcracker Prince
                                                          Stravinsky, the composer, was at pains to
Beethoven symphonies and Wagner operas,                                                                           The Sleeping Beauty. It is as if he has eschewed         from the attack of the mouse army and she is
                                                          emphasise that the Three Movements from
with just his two remarkable hands and the                                                                        grandiloquence in favour of characterisation.            invited to his magic kingdom. But it is Tchaikovky
                                                          Petrushka was not a ‘mere’ act of transcription:
black and white keys of the piano. Enterprising                                                                                                                            who works the magic, transforming a 19th-
                                                          that it should not be played with the original          His Concert Suite from The Nutcracker is a
publishers catered to the insatiable domestic
                                                          orchestra in mind because the piano could not           collection of bonbons – divertissements and              century drawing room into a snowy forest of
demand for piano solo and duet arrangements of
                                                          imitate the orchestra, and that it should not be        miniatures that dazzle and amuse – anchored by           pines through an expansive melody supported
the orchestral repertoire.
                                                          heard with reference to the original dramatic           two of the most inspired numbers from the                above endless arpeggios.
But you have no need to turn to the piano to              context, but as piano music. Stravinsky regarded        ballet: the Intermezzo and the intensely felt
                                                                                                                                                                           In the Land of the Sweets we are treated to
experience the music of Tchaikovsky or                    the Three Movements as a sonata, a new work,            Andante maestoso.
                                                                                                                                                                           national dances. A Russian Trepak supplies the
Stravinsky in the privacy of your home. Indeed,           not as highlights from a ballet.
                                                                                                                  The March – popularly known as the March of              momentum required by Cossack dancers and
where a piano might have stood in the 1880s or
                                                          By contrast, Pletnev, the performer, has made           the Toys – appears in Act I, where, with childlike       the virtuoso flourishes required by the pianist.
the 1920s, there is, no doubt, a home
                                                          transcriptions of Tchaikovsky that are less like        tessitura, it establishes a world of innocence far       The Chinese are represented by their national
entertainment system.
                                                          independent compositions and closer to the              from the dark qualities of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s             drink, Tea, and are apparently unable to decide
And yet technology could not oust the genre               literal piano reduction. They point to yet another      original tale. The mood is sustained in the Dance        between the skirling flute and delicate pizzicato
completely. Piano transcriptions continued to be          tradition: the ballet rehearsal pianist, the unsung     of the Sugar Plum Fairy, forever associated with         strings. The piano, with no need to decide,
made, suggesting that they offer more than                virtuoso, working daily magic to realise                the tinkling celeste. (Tchaikovsky had found the
                                                                                                                                                                           captures both effects perfectly.
expediency and access. The great transcriptions           apparently impossible orchestral scores. Beyond         instrument in Paris while searching for toy
of the 20th century – as is true of the best              the occasional irresistible flourish, Pletnev is true   instruments to include in the ballet. ‘I have            The most substantial movement, the Andante
transcriptions of other centuries – are                   to his texts – these suites are not rhapsodic           discovered … something between a small piano             maestoso, returns us to the Act II Pas de deux.

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This impassioned music is perhaps the finest             accompaniment of a rich and melodious Andante         The first important production of The Sleeping            the puppet. The Three Movements from
moment from the ballet. It is truly symphonic            – here the piano must convey the warmth of the        Beauty outside Russia was staged by Sergei                Petrushka, composed a decade later,
in conception and here, above all, the pianist           cello’s voice. The fleeting Vision concludes          Diaghilev in London in 1921. On that occasion             corresponds to the original material of the
must evoke all the colour and richness of                the scene as Aurora disappears into her               Stravinsky wrote an open letter to the                    Konzertstück: the Russian Dance from the first
the orchestra.                                           enchanted world.                                      impresario: ‘Tchaikovsky possessed the power              tableau of the ballet; the second tableau; and
                                                                                                               of melody, centre of gravity in every symphony,           the dances of the fourth tableau with what
Pletnev’s Music from The Sleeping Beauty,                Act III offers a grand wedding celebration and a      opera, or ballet composed by him … which is               became the concert ending of the orchestral
like his Nutcracker suite, pays little heed to the       pretext for evocative divertissements. The fairy      an extremely rare and precious gift …                     ballet. Stravinsky’s transcription – even if he
original sequence of the numbers or the                  godmothers have already bestowed gifts at             And certainly Tchaikovsky’s outstanding gift              would rather we not call it that – brings the
development of the scenario. But while the               Aurora’s baptism – among them the ‘Singing            of melody explains a great deal of his success            music full circle.
same attention is thrown on Tchaikovsky’s gifts          Canary’ with her gift of eloquence. At the            as a ballet composer; for it is melody and
for characterisation and colour, this more recent        wedding a quartet of jewel fairies give their                                                                   The original ideas were in essence pianistic. In
                                                                                                               rhythm which are essential to all ballet music,
suite also highlights his thematic and harmonic          blessings: Diamond, Sapphire, Silver and Gold.                                                                  addition to the image of a puppet-come-to-life,
                                                                                                               and no amount of ingenious contrapuntal
thinking, his unprecedented use of symphonic             The Silver Fairy resembles her Sugar Plum                                                                       one scenario for the Konzertstück was founded
                                                                                                               development or devices of orchestration can
devices in the service of ballet.                        sister, with the bell-like glockenspiel, that so                                                                on a ‘combat’ between the piano and orchestra.
                                                                                                               make up for the lack of them.’
                                                         lends itself to imitation by the piano. But                                                                     Stravinsky envisaged a long-haired musician of
Pletnev’s Prologue places us at the baptism of           Aurora’s fairytale companions steal the show,         Stravinsky’s observation reveals why                      the Romantic tradition (Liszt perhaps?) seated at
Princess Aurora. The music plays on the                  springing from the pages of Perrault to tell their    Tchaikovsky’s ballet music loses little if anything       the piano rolling ‘incongruous objects’ on the
dramatic contrast between the evil fairy                 own stories in a witty quadrille. Pletnev has         in transcription. For all the genius of his               keyboard, while his exasperated colleagues
Carabosse, furious at having been omitted from           chosen the two most imaginative numbers:              orchestral coloration (Stravinsky was ‘wild’ about        make vehement protests. We hear this best
the guest list, and the Lilac Fairy, whose               carefree Red Riding Hood and the growling             Tchaikovsky’s use of the orchestra in the                 towards the beginning of Petrushka’s Room, in
serenely melancholy entrance tempers the                 Wolf; and Puss in Boots and the White Cat,            Chinese Dance, for example), the ‘centre of               which the piano cadenza – black keys in the left
effect of Carabosse’s curse.                             who alternately paw and claw at each other,           gravity’ doesn’t lie there. Tchaikovsky’s glorious        hand, white keys in the right – receives a furious
                                                         leaving the piano to miaow, purr, yowl and spit       melodies and unerring sense of pulse transcend            ‘caterwaul’ of tremolandos in reply.
By Act I Aurora is celebrating her 20th birthday.
                                                         as best it can.                                       the instrument.
She is a child of the 17th century, as Perrault’s                                                                                                                        The suggestive bitonality of black and white keys
original fairytale suggests and Tchaikovsky’s            The Adagio comes from the emotional heart of          Stravinsky’s Petrushka music began life in 1910           manifests itself throughout the music – including
rococo Dance of the Pages confirms. Act II               the ballet. Not only does it echo the Lilac Fairy’s   as a Konzertstück for piano and orchestra, a              the famous ‘Petrushka chord’ with which the
transports us 100 years forward, in time for             music from the Prologue – framing both ballet         small project to refresh the composer before              piece ends – and for Stravinsky this was
Prince Désiré to catch a vision of the sleeping          and suite, and reminding us that good has             he embarked on the The Rite of Spring.                    Petrushka’s voice, his way of insulting the
beauty while out hunting. Having abandoned his           triumphed over evil – but it conveys the majesty      At Diaghilev’s prompting it became a ballet,              crowd. Although the Petrushka of the ballet
companions, including some Gavotte-dancing               of the royal court and the tenderness of new love.    although the piano retained its prominence in             emerges with a good measure of Pierrot – ‘the
Baronesses, he first ‘meets’ Aurora to the               Finally, all the dancers join in a grand mazurka.     the scoring, effectively taking the ‘title role’ as       immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all

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countries’ – the Petrushka of the Konzertstück           pedalling techniques, and with Stravinsky
was closer to his origins in the Russian                 promising the pianist ‘a sonata made of the
Shrovetide Fairs, and to his cousins, the Italian        material of Petrushka’.
Pulcinello and the English Punch. These
                                                         Stravinsky began work in August 1921,
characters are devil-may-care oddballs, impudent
                                                         enthralled by his task: ‘to provide piano virtuosos
disturbers of the peace, always obnoxious and
                                                         with a piece having sufficient scope to enable
often obscene.
                                                         them to add to their modern repertory and
Since the Petrushka plays always began with a            display their technique.’ In this he succeeded –
silly, frenetic dance, the Russian Dance is in the       the music is breathtakingly demanding.
moto perpetuo style. The artist Benois described         Stravinsky himself would not play it (the only
it as ‘a devilishly infectious excitement                one of his piano works to elude his technique),
alternated with strange digressions into                 and even Rubinstein admitted the Three
tenderness’, the whole thing breaking off                Movements ‘very difficult to perform’.
abruptly after reaching a paroxysm. The
                                                         But despite its diabolical difficulty, the music is
Shrovetide Fair is a parade of cunning
                                                         completely idiomatic – a result of Stravinsky’s
borrowings from traditional Russian music –
                                                         habit of composing at the piano. ‘Fingers are not
effectively a set of miniatures akin to
                                                         to be despised:’ he once said, ‘they are great
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
                                                         inspirers, and, in contact with a musical
Ironically, given Stravinsky’s Konzertstück image        instrument, often give birth to subconscious
of musical combat, the composition of the Three          ideas which might otherwise never come to life.’
Movements came about from a different kind of            This is pure piano music: not, as Stravinsky
dispute involving a virtuoso in the Romantic             explained in a pre-concert lecture, a piano
tradition. Artur Rubinstein reports that he              reduction, ‘but better a piece written especially
annoyed Stravinsky by describing his Piano-Rag-          for the piano, or stated differently, piano music.
                                                         I insist on this point …’ Paradoxically, when
Music (1919) as more for percussion than his
                                                         Rubinstein performed the work in the Salle
kind of piano. In response Stravinsky declared:
                                                         Gaveau he made it ‘sound as I heard it by the
‘The piano is nothing but a utility instrument and
                                                         orchestra more than as a piano piece’.
sounds right only as percussion.’ Somehow the
                                                         The transcription transcends the instrument,
argument ended with Rubinstein playing parts of
                                                         and the technology.
the second tableau from the Petrushka ballet,                                                                      Alexei Volodin
delighting the composer with his intricate                                                 Yvonne Frindle

                                                     8                                                         9
Alexei Volodin                                           He has also given numerous concerto               Executive Producers Robert Patterson, Lyle Chan
                                                         performances with orchestras: Russian State       Recording Producer Ralph Lane
Born in 1977 in St Petersburg, Alexei Volodin                                                              Recording Engineer Yossi Gabbay
                                                         Academy in Moscow, Northern Sinfonia, Sydney
began taking piano lessons at the age of nine.                                                             (Thanks to Allan Maclean)
                                                         Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber
A year later he moved to Moscow, where he                                                                  Editorial and Production Manager Hilary Shrubb
                                                         Orchestra, Orchestra of the Winterthur
studied first with I. Chaklina and later with                                                              Cover and Booklet Design Imagecorp Pty Ltd
                                                         Musikkollegium, and Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra,
Tatiana Zelikman at the Gnessin Music School.                                                              Cover photograph Bill Crump/ The Image Bank
                                                         with conductors such as Christopher Hogwood,
In 1994 he enrolled in the masterclass of                Jean-Bernard Pommier, János Fürst, Theodor        Recorded 7-9 October 2002 in the Eugene Goossens
Professor Elisso Virsaladze at the Moscow                Guschlbauer, Carlo Rizzi, Edvard Tchivzhel,       Hall at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s
Conservatoire. Five years later he graduated             Vladimir Ponkin and Veronika Dudarova.            Ultimo Centre.
with honours, and spent another two years                                                                     2004 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
                                                         His first prize at the 2003 Concours Géza Anda,      2004 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
undertaking a postgraduate course with the
                                                         has provided him with numerous engagements,       Made in Australia. All rights of the owner of copyright reserved.
same teacher. In 2001 and 2002 he studied                                                                  Any copying, renting, lending, diffusion, public performance or
                                                         including concerts with the Zurich Tonhalle       broadcast of this record without the authority of the copyright
at the Theo Lieven International Piano
                                                         Orchestra under David Zinman, the Moscow          owner is prohibited.
Foundation in Como.
                                                         Tchaikovsky Orchestra under Vladimir Fedoseyev,
He has won several prizes – at the Concurso              the Athens State Orchestra, the Belgrade
Internacional Paloma O’Shea at Santander                 Philharmonic, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra,
(1998), the Sydney International Piano                   the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and the
Competition of Australia (2000) and the                  Orchestra della Radio Svizzera Italiana.
Concorso Internazionale Ennio Porrino in Cagliari
(2001). In the summer of 2003 he won First
Prize at the Ninth Concours Géza Anda in Zurich.

As well as in Russia and the Ukraine, Alexei
Volodin gives recitals in Japan, Spain, France
(Rencontres Internationales Robert Casadesus in
Lille), Norway, Egypt, Germany (Ruhr Piano
Festival, Harenberg Centre in Dortmund), Italy
(Portogruaro Festival), the Netherlands (Music
Sessions Festival), the Czech Republic (Cesky
Krumlov), Australia and Switzerland (Settimane
Musicali di Ascona, and the Lucerne Festival).

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