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John Field's Piano Concertos -

'... accomplished performances ...'

John Field: Piano Concertos Nos 5 and 6. © 2002 HNH International Ltd

Field's fame was based mainly on his career in Russia. He arrived there with Clementi in 1802, the year after Tsar Paul had been murdered in St Petersburg, thus inspiring Mme de Staël to characterise the government of Russia as a 'despotism mitigated by strangulation'. Field reached the Russia of Alexander I at a time when the youthful Tsar seemed to be nourishing ideas of liberal reform. That they were never put into practice was due partly to the Tsar's complex character, but also to the activities of Napoleon, which diverted Alexander's interests to a wider European sphere. In 1819 Field met Pushkin, busy with the writing of Ruslan and Ludmilla amid the social delights of the capital. Pushkin's Ode to Liberty secured his banishment to the Caucasus, whereas Field was successful enough as performer and teacher to keep royalty at a safe distance and refuse appointment as court pianist. The friendship with Pushkin lasted, and there exists a double portrait of poet and composer from the late 1820s. By then Pushkin had only narrowly escaped implication in the uprising of the Decembrists at the end of 1825 and in the first weeks of Nicholas I's reign. Field and Pushkin died in the same year, the one from the excesses of a Byronic lifestyle, the other from a fatal wound in a duel.

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Copyright © 21 August 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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