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The Russian late Romantic composer Anatoly Lyadov is somewhat overlooked compared to his famous contemporaries, although Modest Mussorgsky had tipped him for greatness: “A genuine talent! Easy, natural, daring, fresh and powerful…” Lyadov’s work shows great precision and attention to detail, but he did not fulfill his potential, because he was also unreliable, very self-critical, and totally lacking in ambition.
This superb five-CD set of Lyadov’s Complete Works for Piano features many first recordings, and reveals as never before his wonderful contribution to this repertoire. His piano works form the largest part of his output, and his idiomatic writing for the keyboard proves that he was an accomplished pianist. His style was firmly rooted in the European romantic tradition, particularly the music of Schumann and Chopin, but he also liked to include traditional Russian and Polish themes.
He was not interested in sonata form and none of his piano works are very long. In fact his two major piano works are sets of variations. He composed a large number of charming piano miniatures, the most famous being the enchanting Musical Snuffbox, a regular encore piece, and the delightful Marionettes. Many of these intimate, polished little jewels are minor masterpieces, and deserve to be a regular part of the piano repertoire. There are also joint compositions, such as the ingenious cycle of piano Paraphrases written together with Borodin, Cui and Rimsky-Korsakov, all members of the so-called Mighty Handful set of composers. Scriabin’s harmonic vocabulary provided the model for Lyadov’s later works, including the Four Pieces Op.4.
The Italian pianist Marco Rapetti has researched the piano repertoire of several less well-known composers, including Lyadov, and performed their works in concert. His recording of the Complete Works for Piano by Borodin has already been released by Brilliant Classics.
The set includes Fanfare (1894) of which the sheet music was lost. Fortunately an old copy has been found again by Marco Rapetti in Germany. Almost half of the content are premiere recordings.
“There is simply no earthly reason why any number of these stylish, intimate gems should not appear on every recitalist's programme - many of them make ideal crowd-pleasing encore pieces...Rapetti certainly does not shy from taking flamboyant liberties with Lyadov's scores, albeit to voice his own artistic persona rather than through want of technique or expressiveness.”