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8.557293 - Guitar Recital: Dimitri Illarionov
Dimitri Illarionov - Guitar Recital
Giuliani • Tansman • Dyens • Rekhin • Koshkin • Tárrega • Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Mauro Giuliani was born in the southern Italian province of Bari – the exact place of his birth is not known. Neither do we know by what means he acquired his abilities with the guitar, flute and violin, so that by the time he moved to Vienna in 1806 he was already recognised as a virtuoso guitarist and had toured in Europe. There was then little prospect of making a rewarding career as a soloist in Italy (especially in the area of his birth) but the situation in Vienna was entirely different. There he soon became very successful, meeting famous composers such as Beethoven, Diabelli and Hummel. He worked as a performer and composer and even played the cello in the first performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Segovia once described Fernando Sor as “garrulous” but how might one refer to Giuliani, who published over a hundred works during his sojourn in Vienna. In 1819 he escaped the unwelcome attention of the police, after problems with women and money, by returning to Italy, where he managed to resume his high-profile success. The Grande Ouverture, a single-movement in sonata-allegro form, was in fact published in Milan in 1814, while he was still in Vienna, and it remains one of his finest works. As a ‘miniaturised’ version of an Italian operatic overture it may be seen as a gentle parody.
By the time Alexandre Tansman moved from his native country of Poland to settle in Paris in 1919 he had already achieved some success as a composer and pianist. There he became acquainted with Ravel, Milhaud, Honegger and other established composers. His works were soon adopted by Stokowski, Koussevitsky and Mengelberg, and his world-wide tours began. During World War II he lived in and worked in the United States, returning to Paris in 1946. It was in the early 1920s that he met Andrès Segovia who, though he was seeking new works for the guitar, was aware of Tansman’s ability to write in any musical language from the romantic to atonality; as a dyed-in-the-wool romantic, this made Segovia apprehensive. Thus, when he asked Tansman for a work he added: “first wipe your pen clean” before writing for the guitar. From his first response (the Mazurka of 1925) onward Tansman did as he was asked. The Cavatina (1950) is a suite of dances which recalls but does not quote from music of earlier times, albeit in Tansman’s own economical terms. The Danza pomposa was added later, to provide a stronger ending to the work.
Roland Dyens was born in Tunis but musically educated in France. As a guitarist he has won many international awards and gained a wide reputation as an improviser, an aptitude that may stem from his ethnic origin since extemporisation is the essence of middle-eastern music. The French word skaï means ‘artifical leather’ – something glossy, cheap and cheerful, and not quite the real thing. As used in his best-known work, Tango en skaï, the Valse en skaï proclaims it a good-natured parody of the real and familiar thing – the waltz.
The distinguished Russian composer Igor Rekhin was born in Tambov. He studied composition with Aram Khachaturian in Moscow, composition and musicology with Vladimir Tystovich and Alexander Pen-Chernov in St Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), and took a post-graduate course in the Moscow Pedagogical Institute. He is the author of many reviews and articles, has produced many programmes for radio, worked extensively as a teacher and a juror in many national and international competitions, and has been awarded a number of honours. His compositional output covers music for a very wide range of media, including a wide variety of works for and involving the guitar. Dimitri Illarionov gave the European première of his Second Guitar Concerto in Gdansk in 2001. The 24 Preludes and Fugues (1984-90), the only such cycle to be written for the guitar, were dedicated to and first performed by Vladimir Tervo. Rekhin says of it “I did my best to capture the ideas of contemporary musical culture and condense them into a cycle. I often consciously admixed the classical and avant-garde and united them with elements of jazz, rock music and Latin-American rhythms”. It remains only to say that they represent a severe test, musical and technical, for the performer.
It was with his ground-breaking suite The Prince’s Toys that the Russian guitarist-composer Nikita Koshkin first presented himself to the guitar’s world as a composer of great imagination, with a taste for programmatic music (often involving fairy tales and mystical creatures) and for his skilful use of special effects, to the armoury of which he has contributed liberally. Marionette was composed as the set piece in the senior division of a competition in Voronezh in 1996. It depicts the jerky, un-smooth movements of a puppet. Koshkin says “That is all I can say. The rest is in the music”. We may safely leave it at that.
Many years ago I ran a correspondence course which, according to one overseas subscriber “renders the execution of difficulty easily”. So successful was Paganini in creating this impression in his performances that his listeners believed he was in league with the devil. It is to this that the title of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Capriccio diabolico (Homage to Paganini) (1935) refers. It also relates to those passages in the work which frame others of tranquillity and more lyrical grace than Paganini ever achieved. One of these foreshadows the mood of the slow movement of his Guitar Concerto No.1 (1939). In a passage near the end there is a quotation from Paganini’s La Campanella, in which Castelnuovo-Tedesco makes his only direct reference to the work’s dedicatee.
Although Francisco Tárrega, the so-called father of the modern guitar, wrote many charming and beautifully constructed miniatures, his larger works were designed rather to impress the audiences in the salons that were his usual habitat. His sets of variations, including those on The Carnival of Venice, a theme much beloved by cornet players, deploy a range of the special effects of which the guitar is capable, a few of which are of dubious musical value. These works were doubtless greatly enjoyed in the salons, but today, as here, they serve to show just how far guitar music has progressed in the last century. You may enjoy this present one in much the same way as you would when watching gondoliers ‘accidentally’ fall into the canals during the real-life Carnival of Venice.
Dimitri Illarionov is one of the most brilliant classical guitarists of his country. In 1997 he graduated with honours from the Academic Music College at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he studied with Natalia Dmitrieva, continuing at the Russian Gnesin Academy with the famous performer and professor Alexander Frauchi. In 2002 he graduated there summa cum laude, and since October 2002 he has served as an assistant to Professor Frauchi. Dimitri Illarionov won the Grand Prix in the VIth International Promotional Competition Guitar Talents’ Review (Gdansk, Poland, 1999) and the title of The Greatest Hope in the Xth Gdansk Meeting of Guitarists. In 2000 he won the First Prize in the most prestigious Russian International Guitar Competition, Guitar in Russia (Voronezh, Russia). He is the laureate of numerous international competitions. His awards include the Second Prize in the IIIrd International Competition of Musical Personalities Alexander Tansman (Lodz, Poland, 2000), laureate of the VIIth International Classic Guitar Competition Printemps de la guitare 2000 (Charleroi-Seneffe, Belgium), laureate of the XIth International Biannual Guitar Competition in Kutna Hora (Czech Republic, 2002), laureate of the International Competition Classic Heritage (Moscow, 1997) and winner of Moscow Guitar competition (1997). In October 2002 Dimitri Illarionov won the most prestigious guitar competition in the world, the Twentieth International Guitar Foundation of America Solo Guitar Competition (GFA – Miami, Florida, USA). Part of this award is in the form of the present Naxos recording, with a concert tour in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and a concert video recording. His repertoire is broad and varied, including original guitar music of different periods and styles, the unique cycle 24 Preludes and Fugues for Solo Guitar by Igor Rekhin, as well as compositions for guitar with orchestra, lute music, and other works. He has recorded with Boris Andrianov, one of the most gifted young Russian cellists, and has an active concert life, performing as a soloist with orchestras and playing solo recitals. In addition to numerous appearances in Russia, he has given concerts in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Poland, Japan and Germany, with a solo concert at one of the world’s major guitar events, the Nürtingen Festival in Germany.
Acknowledgements: With thanks to my mother Natalia, Serge and Val Illaryonov, my teachers Natalia Dmitrieva and Alexander Frauchi, Ivan Illarionov, NLK and numerous others for their support and help.
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