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WORKS FOR VIOLA & PIANO
Krzysztof Chorzelski, Katya Apekisheva

 

 

 
1. Schumann, Robert [3:28]
Märchenbilder Op.113 (i) Nicht schnell

2. Schumann, Robert [3:58]
Märchenbilder Op.113 (ii) Lebhaft

3. Schumann, Robert [2:41]
Märchenbilder Op.113 (iii) Rasch

4. Schumann, Robert [4:58]
Märchenbilder Op.113 (iv) Langsam mit melancholischen Ausdruck

5. Britten, Benjamin [13:44]
Lachrymae Op.48

6. Shostakovich, Dmitri [10:24]
Viola Sonata Op.147 (i) Moderato

7. Shostakovich, Dmitri [7:16]
Viola Sonata Op.147 (ii) Allegretto

8. Shostakovich, Dmitri [15:18]
Viola Sonata Op.147 (iii) Adagio

Artist(s):
Krzysztof Chorzelski, Viola
Katya Apekisheva, Piano


KRZYSZTOF CHORZELSKI

Krzysztof Chorzelski was born in Warsaw in 1971 and enjoys a diverse career as a performing musician that has taken him all over the world as violist of the acclaimed Belcea Quartet, chamber musician and soloist.

In 1991 Krzysztof moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music with Grigori Zhislin and later Felix Andrievsky. In 1992 he won the Wronski Solo Violin Competition in Warsaw and has subsequently performed as a recitalist and concerto soloist in Europe, making recordings for Polish Radio and the BBC. In 1996 he became the viola player in the Belcea Quartet with whom he has won major prizes at competitions, such as Osaka, Bordeaux and Banff. The quartet’s international schedule regularly takes him to the world’s most prestigious halls, such as Wigmore Hall in London, where the quartet had a five-year residency, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Berlin Philharmonie, as well as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York. The Belcea Quartet's recordings for EMI were highly acclaimed by critics, winning a Gramophone Award, the Midem Award, the Diapason D’Or and the German Critics Chamber Music Recording of the Year Award. During the 2011/12 season the quartet will perform and record the complete Beethoven String Quartets for release on the Zig Zag Territoires label.

Krzysztof is a viola professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where the Belcea Quartet are Quartet in Residence. He also returns regularly to his native Warsaw to teach at the Chopin Academy and the Elsner Music School. Krzysztof also often gives viola and chamber music master classes in Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Israel and Colombia.

Krzysztof is a frequent guest at international festivals such as the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Spannungen in Heimbach, Germany, the Oxford International Chamber

Music Festival, the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina, USA and the Moscow Chamber Music Festival ‘Vozvrashcheniye’. He also works as a chamber music partner with Quatuor Ysaÿe, Ensemble Les Dissonances, the Razumovsky Ensemble and artists such as Stephen Kovacevich, Piotr Anderszewski, Polina Leschenko, Andrew Zolinsky, Natalie Clein and Katya Apekisheva. In 2006 he was invited by the Alban Berg Quartet to perform as a guest violist in a series of concerts celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Mozart’s birth in the Konzerthaus, Vienna.

Krzysztof studied conducting with Neil Thomson at the Royal College of Music and has founded a chamber orchestra based in London called the Metamorphosen Ensemble. His recording of Ittai Shapira’s Violin Concerto ‘Concierto Latino’ with the London Serenata Orchestra and the composer as soloist was released by Champs Hill Records in 2011.

KATYA APEKISHEVA

In demand internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, Katya Apekisheva has been described by Gramophone magazine as ‘a profoundly gifted artist’ who has ‘already achieved artistic greatness’.

A prize-winner at the Leeds Piano Competition and Scottish Piano Competition, Katya has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony and the English Chamber Orchestra. She has collaborated with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, David Shallon and Alexander Lazarev.

Her solo CD release of Grieg solo piano works (on the Quartz label) received over-whelming critical acclaim; chosen by Classic FM as CD of the week and selected by Gramophone magazine as Editor’s Choice. It received a Rising Star award in International Piano magazine and was a Critic’s Choice
for the year in Gramophone magazine.

Equally at home as a chamber musician, Katya has collaborated with Janine Jansen, Natalie Clein, Maxim Rysanov, Jack Liebeck, Boris Brovtsyn, Alexei Ogrinchouk and Nicholas Daniel among others. In this capacity she is a regular guest at major chamber music festivals around the world.

Born in Moscow into a family of musicians, Katya studied at the Gnessin music school under Ada Traub and Anna Kantor. At the age of 12 she performed a Mozart Concerto with Gnessin School Orchestra which was broadcast by Moscow Classical Radio.In 1992 Katya continued her studies at the Rubin Music Academy in Jerusalem with Irina Berkovich. There Katya won an America-Israel Scholarship and was awarded second prize at the Young Talents Radio Competition. In 1994 Katya moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music with Irina Zaritskaya and in 1995 she was awarded President’s Rose Bowl which was presented to her by HRH Prince of Wales.In 1996, in addition to her successes in the Leeds and Scottish competitions, Katya won London Philharmonic Orchestra Soloist of the year and also the prestigious Terence Judd Award. Katya has also collaborated on several recordings with the violinist Jack Liebeck, including a Classical Brit- nominated CD.

Highlights have included performances at Utrecht, Leicester, Ancona, Homecoming Festivals, a tour of the USA with Nicola Benedetti, and appearances at Berlin’s Spectrum Series. She has also made recordings for BBC Radio 3 and German radio. Concerto performances have been with the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and in collaboration with Jan Latham-Koenig, Paul Watkins, Jason Lai and Emmanuel Siffert.


 

 


Despite its long and distinguished role as an essential ingredient of orchestras and chamber music, the viola has always been the Cinderella of the string instruments. ‘That instrument of mixed sex ... this hermaphrodite of the orchestra’, Thomas Beecham described it. Other wits have been even more disrespectful (and we won’t even begin to explore orchestral members’ rich seam of viola-player jokes). Its combined alto-tenor range, the mellow tone husky rather than penetrating, never devoid of melancholy even in cheerful music, give the viola a character at once less easily defined and more versatile than violin or cello. After its brilliant contribution, in strict parity with the violin, in Mozart’s violin-viola duos and Sinfonia
Concertante, its solo literature was slow to develop. Saving an unfinished effort by Glinka, the first true sonatas for viola and piano seem to be the pair that make up Brahms’s op. 120, composed as late as 1894, and even those were first conceived for clarinet, though adapted for viola with scrupulous care. Lyric miniatures for the viola, on the other hand, were common much earlier in the century.

Starting about 1848, Robert Schumann began composing groups of lyric pieces for a solo instrument and piano, often for various alternative instruments, with the avowed aim of broadening the repertoire of those instruments and also giving amateurs something satisfying to play in domestic surroundings: a genre the German called Hausmusik. These include the Fantasiestücke, op. 73 (originally entitled Soiréestücke) for clarinet (or violin, or cello), Romanzen, op. 94 for violin (or oboe, or clarinet); Stücke im Volkston, op. 102 for cello; and finally two very late works – the Märchenerzählungen, op. 132 for clarinet, viola and piano and the Märchenbilder, op. 113. This last-named work was composed in March 1851 for Wilhelm Wasielewski, the concertmaster of the Düsseldorf orchestra of which Schumann was then the conductor. Wasielewski was primarily a violinist, but the Märchenbilder was published in 1852 as a work for viola (with violin as an alternative) and has since become a mainstay of the viola repertoire. He was also a highly professional player, a fact reflected by the challenges in the viola writing.

The title means ‘Fairytale Pictures’. Chronologically, these four ‘fantasy pieces’ were written between Schumann’s first two sonatas for violin and piano, but are worlds away from those heroic and emotionally conflicted works. Instead, they seem to draw the listener into the world of fantasy and childlike imagination that had fascinated Schumann throughout his career. But they no longer have the innocence of youth. Like many of Schumann’s works of his final period, there is an elegiac, autumnal tint to the music, and an increasing scorn for the merely picturesque. These qualities are immediately apparent in the opening Nicht schnell (Not fast), a sombre meditation in D minor on a long-breathed melody that recurs throughout, and in both instruments, in a number of different guises. Schumann’s very evocative use of trills, both in viola and piano, is a notable feature of this movement.

The key moves to F major, relative major of D minor, for the ensuing Lebhaft, a
lively scherzo-rondo whose ebullience is rather undercut by the obsessive dotted rhythms of its principal subject and the military, fanfaring tones of the viola’s strident thirds. The most expansive episode is a kind of polka; shadows gather in the harmonically subtle coda. The third movement returns to D minor and is a headlong moto perpetuo in triplet semiquavers which the violist is instructed to play Mit springendem Bogen (with springing bow, otherwise known as spiccato). The piano contributes a vehement contrasting motif and takes over the triplets against the viola’s resonant triple-stopping. There is a brief turn to B major for a more light- hearted central section, but the return to the furious stream of notes seems all the more driven and obsessive and the final bars have the character of an appeal. This

is a grim fairytale.

In the fourth and final piece D minor relinquishes its grip for the traditionally positive and cheerful tonality of D major, yet Schumann marks the music Langsam, mit melancholischen Ausdruck (Slowly, with melancholy expression), and the viola and piano together unfold a lullaby of the deepest pathos. The elegiac sentiment of the melody, the warm full textures and the sonorous bass octaves of the piano are

alike a remarkable foreshadowing of Brahms, whom Schumann would not meet for another two years. After a slightly more agitated central section the lullaby returns, after which the work breaks off with an unexpectedly brief cadence.

Benjamin Britten composed Lachrymae, subtitled Reflections on a Song of John Dowland, in 1950, completing it on 16 May of that year. In 1949, during a tour of the USA, Britten had become acquainted with the notable viola virtuoso William Primrose, and invited him to appear at the 1950 Aldeburgh Festival – Britten’s own festival, which had already had two highly successful seasons in 1948 and 1949. Lachrymae was written as a ‘reward’ for Primrose’s agreement, and the two of them gave the world premiere in a recital at Aldeburgh Parish Church on 20 June 1950.

In common with most English composers Britten revered John Dowland (1563–1626) as one of the greatest composers of lute songs. The title Lachrymae (‘Tears’) directly recalls the most famous of Dowland’s instrumental solos, the Lachrimae Pavan (1596), which he also made into the song Flow My Tears (published 1600 in his Second Book of Songs or Ayres) and which was the starting-point of his famous collection of consort music Lachrimae, or Seven Tears (published 1604). But the lute song on which Britten principally bases his ‘reflections’ is a love-lorn lament, If My Complaints Could Passions Move, published in 1597 in the First Book of Songs or Ayres. This too is known to have originated as a dance, a Galliard for solo lute, and Dowland also included a consort version in the 1604 Lachrymae under the title of Captaine Digorie Piper his Galliard. (A Cornishman from Launceston, Diggory Piper was captain of the ship Sweepstake and a notorious Elizabethan pirate and freebooter who had died young in 1590; how the music came to be connected to him must remain a matter for speculation, and in any case it is clearly the melancholy song, not the jocund dance, that was Britten’s inspiration.)

If My Complaints is a large-scale song with a certain harmonic monotony built into it, with expressions of hope that are always dashed by inexorable turns to the minor

mode. As a whole it would be an unwieldy subject for a set of variations, as Britten clearly grasped: thus his ‘Reflections’, which are likewise set in (and unable ever wholly to escape) C minor, are almost entirely concerned with the first verse of Dowland’s song and melodic figures derived from it.

If my complaints could passions move,
Or make Love see wherein I suffer wrong:
My passions were enough to prove,
That my despairs had govern’d me too long.
O Love, I live and die in thee,
Thy grief in my deep sighs still speaks:
Thy wounds do freshly bleed in me,
My heart for thy unkindness breaks:
Yet thou dost hope when I despair,
And when I hope, thou mak’st me hope in vain. Thou say'st thou canst my harms repair,
Yet for redress, thou let’st me still complain.

The way that Dowland’s verse plays with alternations of hope and despair is mirrored – reflected, if you like – in the play of minor and major tonalities throughout Britten’s work. In a scene-setting introduction, it opens with the viola musing on the first three or four notes of the song against a soft and tremulous piano accompaniment before the melody of the song’s first strain is enunciated in the bass. There ensue ten ‘Reflections’ or allusive variations. The rather ghostly quality of the introduction is prophetic, for few of these seem to reach a totally defined form or a definite statement: we catch echoes and pre-echoes of Dowland, mere fleeting glimpses, from a surrounding texture that is entirely Britten’s. Yet they are also character-studies, highly contrasted among themselves, tending to fantasy as well as elegy. (It is relevant to note that in his preface to the 1604

Lachrimae, Dowland points out that tears do not always denote grief: there can be tears of joy, for example.) The viola writing covers a very wide range of effects, including pizzicato, sul ponticello bowing and high, glassy harmonics.

In the sixth ‘Reflection’, marked Appassionato, while the piano plays agitated figuration based upon If My Complaints, Britten has the viola introduce a quotation of Dowland’s Flow My Tears (the actual Lachrimae song). In the tenth and final ‘Reflection’ the music becomes grounded over a pedal C, the viola engaging in moto perpetuo passage-work based on the first bars of If My Complaints. This reaches a climax, and the work ends with, at last, a full and deeply elegiac statement of Dowland’s song, in Dowland’s harmony – though the harmonies are re-spaced to work on viola and piano instead of the lute. Dowland’s final cadence grounds us in the unequivocal C minor reality that the ‘Reflections’ had sought to fragment and disembody.

Twenty years after he composed Lachrymae, in 1970, Britten revised the work ahead of a performance that he was to give at the Aldeburgh Festival of that year with the violist Cecil Aronowitz; then in February 1976, in one of his last compositional acts before his death, he fulfilled a promise he had made to Aronowitz by making an arrangement of Lachrymae for viola and string orchestra. By coincidence Britten’s friend and contemporary Dmitri Shostakovich, whose music he greatly admired, had also concerned himself with the viola just prior to his own death a few months before: the last music that Shostakovich completed – and the only piece to feature the viola as a soloist – was the substantial and valedictory Sonata for Viola and Piano, op. 147, whose UK premiere was given by Cecil Aronowitz and Nicola Grunberg at the June 1976 Aldeburgh Festival, the last that Benjamin Britten lived to attend.

Shostakovich’s Sonata was composed from April to July 1975. All three of its movements end with the performance direction morendo (‘dying away’), though it

may be misleading to think of the work as a whole as a deliberate gesture of farewell. But Shostakovich had been living for several years with the crippling heart disease that was slowly killing him, and the sense of pain and valediction runs through all his late works – as well as defiance, a sardonic humour, and a constant concern for moments of beauty. He lived long enough to correct the proofs of the sonata in his hospital bed, four days before his death.

The work is dedicated to Fyodor Druzhinin, who had been the violist of the Beethoven Quartet since 1966 and was a long-time friend of Shostakovich. (There is evidence that in fact Shostakovich had first conceived the work as a Cello Sonata, but changed his mind at an early stage.) Shostakovich consulted Druzhinin on technical points while completing the sonata: he told him that the first movement should be considered a ‘novella’ and that the concluding Adagio was an homage to the memory of Beethoven. Druzhinin, with the pianist Mikhail Muntyan, played the sonata for the first time in a private performance at Shostakovich’s home on 25 September 1975, which would have been the composer’s 69th birthday. They also gave the official world premiere in Leningrad on 1 October 1975.

As in most of Shostakovich’s late works the musical texture is spare and austere, seemingly refined down to essentials. His characterization of the first movement as a ‘novella’ (though it bears the title ‘Aria’) seems to imply a certain narrative quality, which can certainly be sensed, although structurally the movement is a fairly clear sonata form. The music begins with a repeated, almost indifferent, pizzicato phrase in fifths for solo viola, which will recur at different parts of the movement, sometimes almost like an out-of-tune guitar. The main material unfolds in uneasy lyric style, the viola’s sometimes melancholic, sometimes passionate melodic line contrasted with plangent double-stopping and supported by a slow- moving piano accompaniment. The tempo quickens in the central part of the movement, which is more dramatic and agitated, seemingly in a spirit of protest.

Eventually the opening figure returns against ghostly tremolo writing in the viola; it leads, via the barest hint of a waltz, to a cadenza-like solo for the viola recalling several of the movement’s principal ideas. The movement ends with the pizzicato figure, guttering into silence.

The sardonic grotesquerie and goblin energy of the ensuing scherzo may remind us of an earlier Shostakovich, and rightly so. He noted on the manuscript ‘The work of days of long ago’, and in writing it he went back to an unfinished opera, The Gamblers, a setting of a comedy by Nikolai Gogol, which he had abandoned in 1942 after several months of work. The fragment of The Gamblers has since been performed and recorded, but in 1975 this operatic torso (it consists of nearly 50 minutes of music) was entirely unknown – Shostakovich had given the manuscript to his close friend and pupil Galina Ustvolskaya, but requested its return from her in 1974. The sonata’s scherzo begins with an arrangement of the opera’s short overture and continues (slower pace; strummed viola chords; broad tune) with part of the ensuing scene, in which one of the main characters, arriving with his manservant at an inn, extravagantly praises his packs of cards (‘They represent real capital! It’s something one can bequeathe to one’s children!’). This passage functions as a kind of trio; Shostakovich completes the form with a varied repeat of the scherzo music, and a quiet coda that links directly into the finale. By adapting his 30-year-old score into the Viola Sonata Shostakovich may not have intended to allude to the story of The Gamblers – a gallery of cheats and liars – as such, but he may well be paying a last private homage to the wit and irreverence of Gogol, one of his favourite writers and, for him, a characteristically Russian genius.

Certainly the concluding Adagio – the sonata’s longest and most substantial movement, beginning like the first movement with the viola unaccompanied – is imbued with a spirit of homage. Evidently Beethoven was much in Shostakovich’s thoughts towards the end of his life – the previous year he had quoted his Fifth

Symphony in the last number of the Suite on Sonnets of Michelangelo. Yet he told Druzhinin that, though in this finale he wished to honour Beethoven, ‘don’t let that inhibit you. The music is bright, bright and clear’. The Adagio begins with a long elegiac theme for viola unaccompanied, followed by a pizzicato passage, and then with the entry of the piano the music recalls – not exactly, but unmistakably – the opening theme of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor (the ‘Moonlight Sonata’). Through a combination of passionate soliloquy, wandering piano figuration, gravely meditative double-stopping and dramatic chordal writing in the viola, along with frequent allusion to Beethoven (especially the rhythm of the Moonlight theme and the broken arpeggios of its accompaniment), Shostakovich conjures up a broad – and perhaps moonlit – spiritual landscape. Accruing emotional gravity as it progresses, the music builds to a monumental climax and then gradually winds down to a painful but intensely lyrical coda, in which the elements of light and dark reach some kind of resolution in the viola’s final, long-held C.

In 2006 the musicologist Ivan Sokolov revealed that he had discovered that Shostakovich, in an extraordinary passage that occurs before the final climax, had woven a tissue of tiny quotations from all 15 of his symphonies, in order, into the viola and piano parts. Not only is this passage a ne plus ultra of Shostakovich’s powers of using short motifs to generate musical meaning, but despite its meditative tone it is clearly penned with pride: perhaps a Shostakovichian equivalent, emptied of all hubris, of ‘The Hero’s Works of Peace’ in Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. Yet this finale overall has a spiritual quality and a serene fluidity of thought and motivic content that make it a fitting conclusion to almost 60 years of continuous creativity.

Notes by Malcolm MacDonald


“Britten’s Lachrymae, composed 25 years earlier, inhabits a similarity dark and brooding world to the Shostakovich. Chorzelski negotiates its contrasts in texture between each of the variations most effectively, moving inexorably from the stillness and mystery of the earlier sections, to the warmth and poignancy of the Dowland quotation near the close.”

BBC Music Magazine

"This is an excellent recital"

American Record Guide

"The Schumann has supple lyrical muscle and fantasy, the elusiveness of the Lachrymae is exquisitely etched, and the enigmas of the Sonata are explored with astuteness."

The Daily Telegraph


Chorzelski and Apekisheva give full measure to all the music on this disc, and I have enjoyed it greatly. 

Fanfare Magazine 


   
   

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