Russian pianist Mark Taratushkin combines early works of two of the most important composers of the first half of the 20th century on this CD. These six works by Sergei Prokofiev and Béla Bartók illustrate the evolutionary thinking and the use of new forms and ideas. Here all the methods of the masterful composers are clearly seen: the forms and artistic themes, which will later receive their continuation in operas, symphonies, concerts and other great works.
The beautiful “Four Etudes, Op. 2” by Sergei Prokofiev are filled with grotesque fantasies, jaunty lyrics and stinging irony. The “Sarcasms” are an expression of bitter smile and scornful irony of the young composer, a slap to social sensibility of his time. A completely different aspect shows the miniature cycle “Visions fugitives”, twenty small pieces, different in character and mood: Lyricism, dazzling humor, and tenderness; sorrow, angst, disquiet and determination — the composer used the entire palette of musical colors to reflect his perceptions of the world during this complex period of turbulent change.
Béla Bartók’s “Three Etudes, Op. 18” are some of the most outstanding examples of the composer’s attempt to work out his own piano style which strictly rejected the standards of romantic and impressionistic doctrines. Instead of folkloric citations or borrowings, which are characteristic of Bartok’s work on the whole, there is an accumulation of rhythmical and structural elements. The musical language is extraordinarily complicated and individualistic. In the multilayered structure, polyrhythm and use of diverse modes, it displays the composer’s striving to leave the traditional understanding of harmony in favor of new means of musical expression. In the “Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs” folkloric themes are boldly interpreted by the composer. Traditional peasant songs are elaborated in an exaggeratedly pictorial fashion. The program cycle “Outdoors” paints five landscapes in which the composer portrays nature following the Cubists in their sharply dissonant style. Bartók conveys a lively sensation of the space in which one hears the drumming, the bagpipes, the sounds of the water, the rustling of the forest, the cry of the birds and the folk songs.
“Out of Doors”, Sz.81, BB 89
4. The Night's Music
5. The Chase
Drei Etüden, Op. 18, Sz. 72, BB 81
2. Andante sostenuto
3. Rubato - Tempo giusto
Improvisations on a Hungarian peasant song, Op. 20, Sz. 74, BB 83
2. Molto capriccioso
3. Lento, rubato
4. Allegretto scherzando
5. Allegro molto
6. Allegro moderato, molto capriccioso
7. Sostenuto, rubato
“Visions fugitives” Op. 22
Con una dolce lentezza
Presto agitatissimo e molto accentuato
“Sarcasms” Op. 17