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8.223550 - CIURLIONIS, M.K.: Piano Works, Vol. 2
Mikolajus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911)
Piano Works Vol. 2
A distinguished figure in the arts in Lithuania, Mikolajus Konstantinas Čiuriionis was born on 22nd September 1875 in the small southern Lithuanian town of Varena. Two years later his family moved to Druskininkai, where he spent his childhood and adolescence. A few years later another artist, the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, to be strongly influenced by Čiurlionis, was born in the same city. The latter studied piano and composition at the Warsaw Music Institute, followed by a period of tuition in composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. On his return to Warsaw in 1902 he entered first the Warsaw School of Drawing, moving, on its opening in 1904, to the Warsaw School of Fine Arts. There followed exhibitions of his paintings in Warsaw, Vilnius and St. Petersburg. At the same time he continued his parallel career in music, directing a Lithuanian choir in Warsaw and a choir in Vilnius, where he settled in 1907. He was the founder and director of the Union of Lithuanian Painters and international recognition of his work as a painter was assured by his membership of the Russian Mir Iskusstva, World of Art Society in St. Petersburg. His manifold activities were brought to an end by his untimely death in 1911 at the age of 35.
The work of Čiurlionis was based on the view that all arts stem essentially from the same source, however different they may seem. Several of his paintings were based on musical structures, classified as cycles of fugues, sonatas, and so on. A poem by Čiurlionis has the form of a sonata, while much of his music is pictorial. His compositions include two symphonic poems, In the Forest and The Sea, a string quartet and a variety of pieces for piano or organ and choral works. His piano pieces are mostly short and lead from the romanticism of the 19th century to a more modern idiom, influenced by expressionism, serialism or neo-classicism, all of which may be found.
The second collection of piano music by Čiurlionis includes his later and more modern works, with contrasting dynamic and structural elements, and the use of polymodal and polyrhythmic structures, his own interpretation of symbolism. Particularly exciting is the cycle of three pieces VL 269, VL 270 and VL 271, apparently three movements of a planned sonata, to which the unfinished draft of a fugue would provide a final movement. The string quartet, here transcribed by the pianist Mûza Rubackyté, was written during the composer's Leipzig period, between 1901 and 1902. Unfortunately the last movement of the quartet was lost before it could be published. The Fugue in B flat minor, VL 345, is the last piano composition of Čiurlionis. It is solemn and sombre in mood, and, in spite of its slow tempo, full of inner feeling and latent drama, both lyrical and deeply moving.
Mûza Rubackyté established her reputation as an infant prodigy in her native Lithuania, making her debut as a pianist at the age of seven. After study at home, she rnoved in 1976 to the famous Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow for further study, winning first prize there and subsequently named laureate in the international piano competitions of Vilnius, Tallinn, the All Union Competition of St. Petersburg and the Budapest Liszt-Bartók Competition. She was prevented from performing abroad until 1989, when she was able to move to Paris, winning first prize there in 1990 in the International Grands Maîtres Français Competition. Since then she has continued her career as a performer and teacher, at home and abroad, and as a member of the jury in international piano competitions.
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