Ksenia Kouzmenko: Ranges of Érard

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Alexander Scriabin, Stephen (István) Heller, Ignacio Cervantes (Kawanag), Manuel de Falla, Fryderyk Chopin, Claude Debussy, Robert Schumann, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninov

Genre:

Instrumental

Label: Zefir

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: ZEF9656

ZEF9656. Ksenia Kouzmenko: Ranges of Érard

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
(12) Etudes Ksenia Kouzmenko
Alexander Scriabin Composer
Notenbuch für Klein und Gross Stephen (István) Heller Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
Un recuerdo Ksenia Kouzmenko
Ignacio Cervantes (Kawanag) Composer
(El) Amor brujo Manuel de Falla Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
Nocturnes Fryderyk Chopin Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
(24) Préludes Claude Debussy Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
(24) Préludes Claude Debussy Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
Faschingsschwank aus Wien Ksenia Kouzmenko
Robert Schumann Composer
Homenajes Manuel de Falla Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
(6) Morceaux Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
Vers la flamme Alexander Scriabin Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
(The) Seasons Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
(24) Préludes Ksenia Kouzmenko
Claude Debussy Composer
Arabeske Robert Schumann Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
Nocturnes Ksenia Kouzmenko
Fryderyk Chopin Composer
(24) Preludes Sergey Rachmaninov Composer
Ksenia Kouzmenko
A native of the Belarusian capital Minsk, Ksenia Kouzmenko studied there and at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where she has been on the faculty since 1999. In her booklet note, Kouzmenko writes that her first exposure to a historical Érard was preparing for a 2017 concert on the 1863 London instrument used in this recording. The piano, from the estate of Leen de Broekert, is on loan to the Zeeland Concert Hall in Middelburg.

Kouzmenko’s programme is wide-ranging, both chronologically and geographically. The earliest piece on the programme is Chopin’s Nocturne Op 32 No 2 from 1836, and the latest a transcription Manuel de Falla made from the 1925 version of his ballet El Amor brujo. It is readily apparent that Kouzmenko has mastered this historical Érard and happily exploits its expressive potential.

One standout is the Schumann Intermezzo, which showcases how effectively a beautiful cantabile can float above complex textures on this vintage Érard, as well as the extraordinary clarity it can bring to the accompanying voices. Another is Kouzmenko’s idiomatic Debussy. The Préludes she has chosen fit the instrument like a glove.

Some of Kouzmenko’s programming choices give pause for thought. Why Chopin, for instance, whose first allegiance was to Pleyel’s instruments, over Liszt, so famously identified, both personally and professionally, with the House of Érard? And while Érards were certainly to be found in St Petersburg and Moscow, why are three Russian composers included when room is found for only a single Frenchman? And although Strasbourg-born Sébastian Érard made his reputation in Paris, his London factory was producing pianos from the 1790s. In lieu of the little throwaway pieces by Heller and Cervantes, why not something of a British composer?

But these are quibbles about what this disc isn’t. What it is constitutes a well-recorded, personally conceived programme, artistically played on a beautiful instrument. And what’s not to like about that?

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