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Radu A. Lelutiu
Fanfare, November 2012

This is inward-looking and gloomy music that I find extremely personal and deeply moving. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

MusicWeb International, October 2011

The Grieg-like lyric pieces of volume 1 have been replaced by more impressionistic and harmonically ambiguous items, particularly in the last four or five, where the influence of Szymanowski’s now published early piano pieces can be heard. Nevertheless, there is still everywhere lovely melody in abundance, and echoes of Chopin are still apparent. Like Chopin and Szymanowski, Čiurlionis can pack an awful lot of music—and not necessarily notes—into two minutes.

The only substantial work length-wise is a filler, but a fine one: an intelligent transcription of Čiurlionis’s incomplete but attractive String Quartet by Rubackyte herself. The String Quartet has been recorded once before in its original form, by the Vilnius Quartet on a 1998 Russian Disc release (10008), a 48-minute recording of the composer’s ‘Complete String Quartet Music’.

As there is no mention of re-mastering, the Naxos volumes are presumably undoctored 1993 recordings. Sound quality is very good, if perhaps mildly tinny. A good five seconds of silence have thoughtfully been allowed at the ends of tracks…

Čiurlionis’s piano music is a fair bit more straightforward than that of Liszt or Shostakovich, admittedly, but she nevertheless pays it great respect and her lovely lyrical tone, discipline and expressiveness ensure a persuasive performance. What would be good would be for Naxos to now ask her to record the rest of Čiurlionis’s worthy piano music.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2011

I reviewed the first of two volumes of piano music by Mikalojus Ciurlionis in my July column, briefly describing the life of a young man acclaimed as an artist and musician before his early death aged thirty-six. Even in that brief period he was to compose a wide spectrum of music including symphonic, choral, chamber and a modest volume of piano music. Though viewed as a Lithuanian composer, he only spent his childhood days there before studying and working in Poland and Germany with a brief period spent in Russia before returning to Lithuania. Among his composition mentors Reinecke at the Leipzig Conservatoire exercised an influence in the refinement of his writing, and there is also the weight we find in Max Reger whose equally short life was directly contemporary. That he is unjustly neglected will be evidenced by turning to the music on tracks seven to nine, possibly three movements of an uncompleted sonata. We find just how quickly he was maturing as we progress through the 16 Preludes. Nothing of happiness here, but they are imposing scores. A well thought-through Fugue leads to a piano adaptation by the soloist of an uncompleted string quartet. It does not sound like other piano music on the disc, but it is pleasing enough. Also born in Lithuania, but now living in Paris, the soloist is the Russian-trained, Muza Rubackyte. She has a feel for the music, plays with unfailing accuracy, and I recall being most impressed when the recording first appeared on Marco Polo label in 1994. As with the first volume the disc’s notes are far from adequate.

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