LYAPUNOV Piano Works Vol 1
The young Belgian pianist Florian Noack devotes Volume 1 of what promises to be the complete solo piano music of Sergey Lyapunov (1859-1924) to dance forms. Each of the three Valse-impromptus are placed judiciously between the eight Mazurkas grouped in pairs. He opens with Valse pensive, Op 20, whose influence is audible to the extent that, notwithstanding Lyapunov’s independent voice, there is in almost every piece what sounds like a thematic reference to Islamey: a figure of a quaver triplet/two quavers/crotchet appears almost like a leitmotif.
The shortest work is the Second Valse-impromptu, a feather-light confection à la Moszkowski (‘a bibelot of exquisite craftsmanship’ says the booklet) with some delightfully casual canonic episodes that Noack invests with great charm. Here and elsewhere he gets to the heart of this music, responding to such instructions as quasi flauto and then quasi piccolo in the middle section of the Fifth Mazurka with finesse. The Tarantella, Op 25, in which Lyapunov’s pianistic heritage of Chopin, Liszt, Henselt and Balakirev is combined in one fearsome moto perpetuo, is thrillingly dispatched. The lush piano sound is a joy. ARS Produktion’s booklet is translated into a strange version of English with terms that will fox the uninitiated (eg the ‘Myxolydian pedal’ in the Fifth Mazurka) and confound even a Scrabble champion: the Seventh Mazurka is, apparently, ‘assuredly zal’.
No such head-scratching with Toccata Classics – Margarita Glebov is as fascinating on the composer as Donald Manildi is on the music, nine works which Glebov plays in chronological order, beginning with Three Pieces, Op 1 (1888). Like the later tumultuous Scherzo, Op 45 (1911) – with that Islamey-esque leitmotif again – and the Sonatina, Op 65 (1917), these are first recordings.
If her tone is marginally less effulgent than Noack’s, Glebov’s affinity with Lyapunov’s distinctive brand of lyrical virtuosity, couched firmly in the language of the late 19th century, is complete. The remainder of her programme duplicates the three Valse impromptus and four of the eight mazurkas played by Noack, though the two pianists differ significantly on some tempi: Mazurkas Nos 1 and 2, for instance, are 4'26" and 5'12" (Noack), 3'31" and 6'02" (Glebov). So which disc to choose? It would assuredly be zal to have both.