Monday, June 25, 2012

Eliesha Nelson: Varvara Adrianovna Gaigerova, Alexander Winkler & Pavel Fedorovich (Paul) Juon

[Russian Viola Sonatas; Eliesha Nelson, viola; Glen Inanga, piano; Sono Luminus DSL-92136 (2011) (71:02)]

At we are invited to "Meet The Composers" whose works make up the acclaimed CD of Eliesha Nelson and Glen Inanga, Russian Viola Sonatas:

Varvara Adrianovna Gaigerova was born in Oryekhovo-Zuyevo, Russia, on October 4, 1903, and died in Moscow on April 6, 1944, shortly before her 41st birthday. Not much can be found on her biographically, and I was unable to find out exactly why she died so young. Oryekhovo-Zuyevo is east of Moscow city, near the Klyazma River, and formed in 1917 as an amalgamation of several industrial towns. She studied at the Moscow Conservatory in the 1920's with Heinrich Neuhaus (piano), Nikolai Myaskovsy and Georgy Catoire (composition). Her earlier works are heavily influenced by Scriabin. She worked at the Bolshoi Ballet as a pianist, as well as in Oryekhovo-Zuyevo. In the 1930's she began incorporating folk music into her music from ethnic groups of the Soviet Union (Buryats, Uzbeks, Yakuts, Turkmenian, etc.) and writing works dedicated to socialism and the revolution. She was the only composer on this album to remain in Russia during political turmoil. Her works include:
  • 3 Symphonies (1928, 1934, 1947)

  • 3 Suites (1932-1935) Piano sonatas and shorter works over 150 romances
    based on poetry

On this recording: Suite for Viola and Piano, Op. 8

Alexander Winkler is the oldest of the three composers on the recording. He was born in Kharkov on March 3,1865, and died in Besançon, France on August 6, 1935. His viola works on this disc are the first recorded performances, as is the Suite by Gaigerova. Winkler studied in Paris where he studied piano with Victor- Alphonse Duvernoy (1842-1907) and in Vienna, piano with Theodor Leschetizky (1830- 1915) and composition with Karl Navrátil (1836-1914). He returned to Kharkov in 1890 to teach piano, and then from 1896-1924 he taught at the St. Petersburg/Petrograd Conservatory. His best known students were Sergei Prokofiev and Alfred Swan. He was a member of the “Belyayev Circle,” which was a group of composers including Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Glazunov and Antatoly Lyadov, that championed a national style of classical music. Mitrofan Belyayev was a successful timber merchant and amateur violist who became an arts patron and publisher after hearing Alexander Glazunov's music. Many young composers hoping for patronage studied with members of this group, making it influential.
Winkler immigrated to France in 1924 to become a professor in the Besançon Conservatory, and the following year its director. He transcribed and arranged music composed by fellow “Belyayev Circle” composers. His works also include:
  • 3 string quartets
  • 1 string quintet
  • 1 piano quartet
  • 1 piano trio
  • several songs
  • piano pieces
  • several orchestral works
On this recording: Two Pieces for Viola and Piano, Op.31 Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 10

Pavel Fedorovich (Paul) Juon was born in Moscow, on March 6, 1872 and died in Vevey, Switzerland, on August 21, 1940. He was the son of a prominent Moscow official of Swiss and German descent. He went to a German primary school in Russia and spoke German at home. He studied violin with Jan Hrimaly a the Moscow Conservatory, and composition with Sergei Taneyev and Anton Arensky. In 1894, he studied composition in Berlin with Woldermar Bargiel, the half brother of Clara Schumann. During 1915- 1918, Juon spent time as interpreter in a German prison camp, while his relatives fought for the Russians. After the war he moved to Berlin, where he achieved success as a composer. As a perfectionist who did not self promote, he was relatively well known while alive. He retired in 1934 for health reasons, and chose to move to Vevey, Switzerland, where he claimed citizenship. He was a prolific composer with at least 100 opuses, and his German musical influences nicknamed him the “Russian Brahms.” The Juon International Society can be found online at:

On this recording: Sonata in D major for Viola and Piano, Op. 15

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