Review By Dan Morgan,MusicWeb International,June 2011
Having reviewed the Arensky and Balakirev concertos from Yablonsky and the Russian Philharmonic I was impatient to hear their Lyapunov. As with so many composers trapped in another’s shadow—in this case that of Balakirev—the mentor’s passing would pay artistic dividends. The three works on this disc precede Balakirev’s death in 1910 so one might expect a degree of imitation born of admiration and undue influence. Indeed, Lyapunov went on to complete his master’s Second Piano Concerto which, like his own, is also in the key of E.
Review By Record Geijutsu,June 2011
8.570783_The Record Geijutsu_062011_jp.pdf
Review By Jerry Dubins ,Fanfare,May 2011
Sergei Lyapunov (1859–1924) became disenchanted with the academic discipline at the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied, and with the conservative inclinations of his teacher, Sergei Taneyev. So he sought out Balakirev of the Mighty Five, with whose Russian nationalist leanings Lyapunov found himself more in sympathy. Balakirev, who at the time was the only professional musician in the group, would remain an important influence on Lyapunov. Despite this, the young composer, having been exposed to the rigors of conservatory schooling, found the others’ dilettantism distasteful and ultimately limiting; thus, as I was to learn, he fell in with the so-called Belyayev crowd, a society of Russian musicians who met in St. Petersburg between 1885 and 1908, and whose members
For Lyapunov, the Belyayev philosophy presented the best of both worlds: music of a Russian bent wedded to a solid grounding in Western harmonic and contrapuntal practices. In a way, Lyapunov, along with Alexander Kopylov (1854–1911), another Belyayev member, Moszkowski (1859–1925), and Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859–1935), were the link between Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov on one side, and the three Gs—Gretchaninov, Glazunov, and Glière—and Rachmaninoff on the other.
Lyapunov’s Piano Concerto No. 1, in the godforsaken key of E♭-Minor (six flats!)—fine maybe for the pianist, but think of the orchestra’s string players—received its premiere in 1890 in a performance led by Balakirev. The piece won a Belyayev Glinka prize in 1904 (as did Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2), and it became a favorite of Josef Hofmann, who performed it often. Critical opinion, however, was not unanimous. Rimsky-Korsakov expressed doubts regarding Lyapunov, observing that “his music, though very noble, was almost completely lacking in originality.” And from there, Lyapunov’s ride was all downhill.
By the time Hyperion released its recording nearly 100 years later in 2002, here is what the critics were saying. Anastasia Tsioulcas of Classics Today: “This is Romantic music with a vengeance. Lyapunov never was satisfied to use one note when 10 would do just splendidly. By the end of the second concerto, you will either be utterly enthralled or so addled by trills, runs, and splayed chords that you’ll be at a loss to know which end is up.” And from an R. E. B. of Clamore....
Review By Patsy Morita,Allmusic.com,April 2011
This premiere recording by pianist Shorena Tsintsabadze includes the complete concerted piano works of Sergey Lyapunov. Lyapunov is certainly not one of the better-known or more imaginative Russian Romantics, but for those who are fascinated by the composers known as the “Mighty Handful” and their compatriots and followers, Lyapunov is a figure of interest. He was greatly influenced by Mily Balakirev, who provided Lyapunov with a good deal of advice on the composition of the Piano Concerto No. 1. Balakirev became the dedicatee of the work and also conducted its premiere in 1891. The two opening themes of the single-movement concerto—one stern, one pastoral—are unmistakably Russian. The piano writing in all three of these works shows the virtuosic legacy of
Review By Paul Turok,Turok’s Choice,April 2011
Ukranian composer Sergey Lyapunov’s (1859–1924) piano concertos glisten with effective virtuosic passages; his music is entertaining enough while listening…Beautifully played by Shorena Tsintsabadze, with the Russian Philharmonic led by Dmitry Yablonsky (8.570783). The well-recorded disc also includes Lyapunov’s Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes.
Review By Juan Manuel Parra Urbano,Ritmo,April 2011
No es de extrañar que Dmitry Yablonsky al frente de la Russian Philharmonic Orchestra defienda la memoria de Lyapunov (1859–1924), un compositor que gozó de la protección de Balakirev y sucedió a Rimsky-Korsakov como director asistente de música en la Capilla Imperial, y es que el pianismo que despliega el compositor ruso en sus páginas no está exento de la enorme exigencia técnica característica de la escritura romántica de la época. more....
Review By Steven J Haller,American Record Guide,March 2011
Sergei Liapounov has always seemed to inhabit the fringe rather than the cutting edge of Russian music, in many respects content to continue on where The Five left off. Rimsky-Korsakoff famously characterized him as almost completely lacking in originality, sometimes mimicking Balakirev, sometimes Glazounov. Today he’s remembered more as educator and folklorist than composer; he published some 300 songs—several of them in his own arrangements. Some may also know his orchestration of Balakirev’s Islamey; and it was Liapounov who undertook the completion of Balakirev’s Second Piano Concerto after his mentor’s death. more....
Review By Christophe Huss,Le Devoir,February 2011
Sergueï Lyapounov (1859–1924) est l’un de ces seconds couteaux de la musique russe que les amateurs de généreuse musique romantique prennent plaisir à écouter et à découvrir. Comme Kabalevski, lui aussi bien servi par Naxos, Lyapounov s’attache à composer une musique sincère et abordable, ancrée dans le terroir. On ne s’étonnera donc pas de trouver une Rhapsodie ukrainienne complétant cet enregistrement des deux volubiles concertos. Le concept du concerto pour piano est ici directement tiré des concertos de Liszt: un bloc d’une vingtaine de minutes accolant des épisodes contrastés. Le langage, aussi, est post-lisztien, dans la veine de Balakirev et
Review By RéF,Pizzicato,February 2011
Review By B.A. Nilsson,Metroland Online (Albany, NY),February 2011
LYAPUNOV, S.M.: Violin Concerto / Symphony No. 1 (Fedotov, Russian Philharmonic, Yablonsky) 8.570462
LYAPUNOV, S.M.: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes (Tsintsabadze, Russian Philharmonic, Yablonsky) 8.570783
Review By Brian Wilson - Download Roundup,MusicWeb International,February 2011
You either love Russian music of this period, as I do, or you think it’s going nowhere, finding it impossible to love or hate—which is why Balakirev’s First Symphony, the real litmus test, has to be a private affair for me because my wife places it in the ‘going nowhere’ category, even in the superb Beecham recording on EMI (Perhaps that’s why that splendid CD is no longer available). Lyapunov’s two short Piano Concertos and the Rhapsody are superb spirit-lifters and this idiomatic set of performances, well recorded—much better than what used to emanate from Moscow, and in good mp3—are almost guaranteed to be regular visitors when I need a psychological boost without too much mental effort.
Review By David Fanning,Gramophone,February 2011
He may not be a major composer but Lyapunov’s music is still worth hearing
Review By Kevin Sutton,MusicWeb International,February 2011
Sergey Lyapunov was the son of a mathematician-astronomer father and a musician mother. His early studies were with her, until his father’s death caused the family to move to Nizhny-Novgorod, where he began study in the local branch of the Russian Musical Society in 1873. He would later attend the Moscow Conservatory where he studied with Taneyev, and for a brief time Tchaikovsky. He would later move to St. Petersburg, where he became a disciple of Mily Balakirev, the self-ordained leader of the Russian nationalist group of composers. This association was to have a profound effect on the young composer, keeping him away from a rival circle led by Belyayev, and causing his output to be more backward looking than forward.
Review By Phil Muse,Audio Video Club of Atlanta,February 2011
Sergei Lyapunov (1859–1924), the answer to the “Who is he?” featurette in my last month’s column, is a Russian composer whose time is certainly past due. A Student of Mily Balakirev, he represents the second generation of the Russian National School that produced so much glorious music. He was influenced also by Franz Liszt, to whose memory he dedicated his 12 Transcendental Etudes. Since that work completed the tone sequence begun by Liszt in his own similarly titled masterwork that required the most formidable skills required of the pianist performing them (etudes d’exécution transcendente) it would have been sheer audacity for Lyapunov to employ such a title if his own keyboard skills had not been as formidable as they
That they were that impressive is evident from the opening of Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat minor. After the introduction by the orchestra of an unmistakably Russian theme in octaves, pianist Shorena Tsintsabadze makes her presence known early and often, handling the well-defined lyricism in the Adagio section with skill and feeling. When the opening theme returns in the long-awaited modulation to E flat major at the end, we have come to a very satisfying conclusion.
Concerto No. 2 in E major affords Tsintsabadze and the RPO under Yablonsky even more occasions to shine in its relaxed, natural give and take between soloist and orchestra. Like its predecessor, this is a concerto in a single movement in which there is a nice balance between broadly stated melodies by the orchestra and finely crafted cadenza-like passages by the pianist, striking a natural balance between urgency and relaxation. The slow section, Lento ma non troppo, allows the soloist to display delicate tracery and subtle warmth that never descends to sentimentality.
Finally, Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes makes much of its folk themes and the pianist’s virtuosity, culminating in cascades of sound as we arrive at the climax, a rousing Cossack dance. Whether or not Rimsky Korsakov’s assessment that Lyapunov “lacked originality” will hold up with the passage of time, his music is undeniably attractive in its warmth and melodic qualities. These three works, short on thinks but long on feeling, embody what we love about the Russian piano concerto. They need to be heard more often.
Review By John J. Puccio ,Classical Candor,January 2011
Another name I’d never heard of.
So, who is Sergey Mikhaylovich Lyapunov? He was a Russian composer (1859–1924) “strongly influenced,” as the album jacket notes, “by Mily Balakirev, leader of the ‘Mighty Handful’” of Russian nationalist composers who dominated Russian composition for a time. People probably know Lyapunov best for his two symphonies and for the three pieces recorded here: the two piano concertos and the Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes.
Review By David Hurwitz,ClassicsToday.com,January 2011
Sergey Lyapunov’s music is so derivative that it’s almost impossible to detect any sign of an independent personality at work. The strongest influence on his music was Balakirev, but then no one today much knows (or cares) what makes that composer’s work distinctive either, so perhaps it’s best just to call Lyapunov a typical Russian Romantic Nationalist of the Rimsky-Korsakov school and leave it at that. Maybe there is something personal in his love of dense figuration and ornamentation in the solo part, but beyond that what we have in both of these concertos is about 20 minutes of extremely, though not always memorably, tuneful noodling arranged in a compact, Lisztian, single-movement format. The Ukrainian Rhapsody is a touch shorter, and even more
Lyapunov is well-served on disc, if not generously so. This exact coupling is available in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series, more vividly recorded (and more expensive), but pianist Shorena Tsintsabadze and Dmitry Yablonsky more than hold their own against the team of Milne and Brabbins on the English label. Tsintsabadze has the digital dexterity to attack these pieces with aplomb, never losing herself (or the tune) in Lyapunov’s numerous musical gestures and asides. The Russian Philharmonic is certainly no less accomplished than Hyperion’s BBC forces, and while, as just suggested, the sonics are somewhat studio-bound, Tsintsabadze’s piano sounds aptly bold and bright. Not great music perhaps, but well worth hearing and very enjoyable all the same.
Review By Infodad.com,January 2011
The music of Sergey Lyapunov is of somewhat less interest—it is easier to see why it has gone through a long period of benign neglect. Lyapunov (1859–1924) was so strongly influenced by Mily Balakirev (1837–1910) that he never seems to have developed a voice uniquely his own: both his piano concertos and his Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes clearly look back at Balakirev’s music—in fact, Balakirev himself made many suggestions for Lyapunov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and may have had a hand in composing, or at least revising, the finished product. When Lyapunov does not seem to be channeling Balakirev, he tends to sound much like Alexander Glazunov, who was his contemporary, living from 1865 to 1936, but whose music (itself largely neglected
Review By Robert Cummings,Classical Net,January 2011
Early in his career Sergey Mikhaylovich Lyapunov (1859–1924) came under the influence of the Russian Nationals, a group led by Mily Balakirev and whose members included Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Cui. The works offered on this Naxos CD show the influence of some of these, to be sure, but more than anything else, it is the voice of Liszt that is most noticeable here, particularly in the piano writing. It is understandable that Lisztian elements would creep into the First Concerto, a work written in 1890, when the composer was turning thirty and still developing his style. But the Second Concerto, completed in 1909, is even more beholden to Liszt.
Review By Film Music: The Neglected Art,December 2010
One of the nice things about Naxos is they never seem to be afraid to take a chance on someone who is not been very well recorded. Such is the case with Sergey Lyapunov a composer whose recordings premiered in the 1890’s and early 20th century, a time of unrest in the Soviet Union as well as the emergence of a young Rachmaninoff whose works have proven far more popular over the years.
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