Anton Rubinstein is one of those legendary figures whose life could be the basis for a book or a film script. The extent and variety of his achievements are extraordinary: besides being an astonishingly prolific composer, he achieved global fame as a pianist and was a pioneer of musical organisations in Russia, founding the St Petersburg conservatory.
This album is devoted to his works for piano four hands, though it also succeeds in providing a snapshot of his creative output as a whole. We begin with his Sonata Op.89, perhaps the first great sonata for four hands, and a work that showcases the range of (principally German) influences on his compositional style, containing echoes of Mendelssohn, Beethoven and more. We then travel from the Three Characteristic Pieces Op.9 – creations from his youth which are less mature but which bear the potentiality of what Rubinstein would become, in particular in terms of melodic skill – to the Six Characteristic Pieces Op.50, a series of works written by the composer at the height of his abilities, full of refined and erudite harmony and well-defined pianistic style.
The pianists, Sara Bartolucci and Rodolfo Alessandrini, also known as the Duo Pianistico di Firenze, celebrated 20 years of activity in 2011 with a recital in the prestigious Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence. They dedicate themselves completely to the four hands and two pianos literature, in which they have a wide repertoire, including composers of all types and from all historical periods.
- Recorded in 2013.
- The first volume of a projected complete recording of Rubinstein’s music for 4-hand piano.
- Anton Rubinstein was a legendary pianist in the 19-th century, admired by Liszt and even the young Rachmaninoff. As a pianist he tirelessly toured Europe, his fame spreading widely. As a composer he was equally tireless, composing a substantial oeuvre of practically every genre. His creative roots were, despite his Russian origin, in the German Romantics Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt.
- Rubinstein’s works for piano 4 hands are high quality salon music: picturesque tone painting, romantic and idyllic, with an occasional touch of Russian folklore. An exception is the Grande Sonata, which is of substantial length and content, dramatic and powerful.
- Excellent performance by one of Italy’s foremost duos, the Duo Pianistico de Firenze, who also wrote the extensive liner notes.
- Booklet contains an ensemble biography and consummate notes on the composer and music; Italian note and biography available for download by clicking on ‘Download booklet’, below the cover (on release).