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In the American Record Guide (2000/01) New York Times critic Harold C Schonberg (1915-2003), cited her Scriabin CD as 'the best recorded performances I am familiar with'.

By 1997 Kuschnerova's Prokofiev CD took the 'German Record Critics' Award (Preis der Deutschen Schalplattenkritik), and in 1998 the German music magazine Scala listed it among 'The 50 best "Desert Island" piano recordings of all time'.

The Penguin Guide (2003/04), a popular source of classical reviews, bestowed a coveted 'Rosette' on Kuschnerova's 'All-Bach Recital' describing how it 'leaves the listener feeling exhilarated and purified as only the best Bach playing can.'

For biographical detail, Wikipedia describes Elena thus: 'Elena Kuschnerova was born and raised in Moscow and currently lives in Baden-Baden, Germany. She was brought up in a musical family, and began piano studies, aged five. Elena gave her first performance with orchestra, aged nine and recorded Bach's Concerto in F minor for Radio Moscow with sometime conductor of the USSR Cinematography Symphony Orchestra, Emin Khachaturian.'

For the opening Scriabin-like 4 Etudes, Op 7, the youthful Igor Stravinsky adopted an anti-romantic attitude remarking 'the piano is an instrument of percussion and nothing else'. Of Scriabin, he wrote grudgingly; 'perhaps I have been influenced by him -- in writing these études, but one is influenced by what one loves, and I never could love a bar of his bombastic music.'

When Maximilian Steinberg married Rimsky-Korsakov's daughter (17 June 1908) Stravinsky wrote a dedicatory symphonic poem, Fireworks, marked Opus 4. Four days later Rimsky-Korsakov died and Stravinsky wrote a memorial work for him, Chant Funèbre Op 5, which remains unpublished.

The loss of his teacher and adviser caused a temporary break in Stravinsky's creative work; that year, 1908, he wrote only 3 Songs Op 6 and these 4 Piano Etudes Op 7 (the last work marked with an opus number -- Nicolas Slonimsky: Writings on Music Vol 2 -- Russian and Soviet Music and Composers, edited by Electra Slonimsky Yourke, and published by Routledge in 2005, ISBN 0415968666).

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Copyright © 7 October 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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