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The remaining half of the program consists of seven pieces for solo piano. The Allegro in E Flat demonstrates that Taneyev's skill can't always overcome weakness of invention [listen -- track 18, 5:42-6:38]. The March in D Minor on the other hand proves that he could produce the occasional bonbon [listen -- track 21, 1:22-2:02].

The release concludes with two versions of The Composer's Birthday. The piece was written to celebrate Tchaikovsky's 52nd and uses themes from many of his works. It is first played behind Vladimir Ashkenazy's narration in Russian (the outstanding notes include a translation), and then without narration.

Performances are expert and loving throughout, but the release is a bit of a curiosity, most likely to appeal to those who know the composer, or to specialists in Russian musical history. The shamelessly romantic Symphony No 4 with its gorgeous cyclic melody makes a better introduction for those unfamiliar with Taneyev. Järvi comes close to pulling it off without blushing. A recent Deutsche Grammophon release with an all star group led by pianist Mikhail Pletnev is also fine indeed, and among the best disks of Taneyev's chamber music.

Copyright © 8 January 2008 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


Taneyev Piano Music

TOCC 0042 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 77'13" 2006 Toccata Classics

Joseph Banowetz, piano; Russian Philharmonic of Moscow; Thomas Sanderling, conductor; Vladimir Ashkenazy, narrator; Adam Wodnicki, piano

Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev (1856-1915): Piano Concerto in E flat (Allegro; Andante funebre); Prelude in F; Lullaby in B flat; Theme and Variations in C minor (Theme; Un poco più mosso; Allegretto alla quartetto di P Tschaikowsky; Allegro; Allegretto; Andante espressivo; Allegro; Andante; Allegro vivace; Allegro; Con moto; Andante; Andante non troppo lento); Allegro in E flat; Andantino semplice in B minor; Repose (Elegy) in E; March in D minor; Four Improvisations (with Arensky, Glazunov and Rachmaninov) (Moderato, E minor; Allegretto, C; Allegro scherzando, B flat minor; Largo, F minor); The Composer's Birthday, for narrator and piano, four hands; The Composer's Birthday, for piano, four hands


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