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     Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840 -1893) created a great number of piano works.  These compositions were intended to serve specific purposes and be performed in certain environments.  Works like the First Piano Concerto were created for big concert halls, to celebrate solemn moments of Russian history and unify the national spirit of Russian society.  Miniatures usually were performed at home, in a circle of friends and family.  They are a symbol of the privacy and comfort of many Russian homes and reflect the Russian style of life in the 19th century.  Though Tchaikovsky's piano miniatures were addressed mostly to nobles and prosperous townsfolk, his music speaks to everyone.  Intimate and sincere, with rich melodies and simple to perform, the music gained great popularity for the composer.
    Op. 40 was composed in 1878 and dedicated to Pyotr's brother Modest.  No. 9 is a revised version of the Waltz written in 1876.  No. 10 is based on the Danse Russe in the ballet Swan Lake.
    Mikhail Pletnev spoke of performing the cycle: "When I play this music I seem to become immersed in the atmosphere in which the composer lived, as if I am reading his diary or memories.  And a new facet of Tchaikovsky's perception of life opens up to me, reflected in his music."  Indeed, Pletnev's performance of Tchaikovsky's pieces is the great artist's view
of life read intimately by the pianist.  Pletnev's respect for Tchaikovsky's music can be sensed in his meticulous adherence to the most minute details of the text.  However, this is not pedantry; it is the insight of a musician, which brings to mind Arthur Rubinstein's words:
"Performance is the second creation."  The pianist reveals to us a new understanding of
Tchaikovsky's music. Pletnev's Tchaikovsky is a great artistic event, not only in the pianist's
own biography, but in the history of interpretation of Tchaikovsky's piano works.
    Pletnev was born in Archangelsk, Russia, in a family of musicians and displayed  exceptional musical talent from a very early age.  Growing up in Kazan, he entered the Moscow Central School of Music at the age of 13 and, in 1974 - the Moscow  Conservatory, where he studied piano under Jakob Flier and Lev Vlasenko.  Pletnev was the Gold Medal and First Prize winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow when he was only 21.  His prize earned him early international recognition and, in 1988, an invitation from President Gorbachev to perform at the Russia - USA summit in
Washington.
     Tchaikovsky most probably is Pletnev's favourite composer.  His transcriptions for piano
of Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty Suites (both works he also performs as a conductor) were selected along with his performance of  The Second Piano Concerto and The Seasons for the 1998 anthology "Great Pianists of the 20th Century".
    BBC Music Magazine called his interpretations "piano playing at its greatest... this  performance alone would be enough to secure Pletnev a place among the greatest pianists ever known".

2003 Evgeni Kostitsyn

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
(1840 - 1893)

    Twelve Pieces for Piano, Op. 40

1. Etude - 1:30
2. Sad Song - 2:55
3. Funeral March - 8:54
4. Mazurka - 3:05
5. Mazurka - 3:37
6. Song Without Words - 2:11
7. In the Village - 4:26
8. Waltz - 3:01
9. Waltz (second version) - 5:40
10. Russian Dance - 3:06
11. Scherzo - 3:34
12. Interrupted Dreams - 4:26

13. Romance, Op. 5 - 6:22
14. Waltz-Scherzo, Op. 7 - 4:24
15. Capriccio, Op. 8 - 5:00

Total time - 63:40

Mikhail Pletnev, piano

Cover painting "Girls at the Piano" by Renoir

Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn