About this Recording
8.573725 - Piano Recital: Rizikov, Anastasia - BEETHOVEN, L. van / ALBÉNIZ, I. / CRUZ-GUEVARA, J. / GRIEG, E.
English  Spanish 

Beethoven • Albéniz • Cruz-Guevara • Grieg


This recital is framed by a pair of sonatas—it opens with the disquieting beauty of one of Beethoven’s middle-period creations, Sonata No. 17, Op. 31, No. 2 ʻThe Tempest’, and closes with the ardent vitality of Grieg’s early Sonata in E minor, Op. 7. In between, we hear two works from the Spanish repertoire: Albéniz’s much performed Triana and the newly composed Soñando María Magdalena, commissioned from Andalusian composer Juan Cruz- Guevara for the 57th edition of the Jaén International Piano Competition.

The delightful recitative with which the Beethoven Sonata (1802–03) opens, its composer taking pleasure in creating an ambiguous mood before developing the “traditional” Allegro, is in itself a fine display of artistic depth and genius. The ensuing Allegro turns out to be a tumultuous space in which formal order is pitted against an expressive power that seems to want to break free from the narrow confines of Classical sonata form. The central Adagio is another piece of beautiful writing—a song of intense melancholy, recalling the slow movements of Beethoven’s piano concertos (the Third in particular). It gives way to the melody-rich Allegretto, which continues to generate its own energy without pause as it moves towards the elegant ending—a final touch of subtle discretion.

Triana is perhaps the most radiant number in Albéniz’s Iberia (1905–09). In it the composer uses the flamenco seguiriya form to depict the eponymous gypsy quarter of Seville, a hustle and bustle of Andalusian life at its most typical, with all its high spirits and endless sunshine. The work presents enormous technical challenges, its astonishing polyphonic writing capable of causing listeners to question whether they are really hearing just one pianist perform.

Soñando María Magdalena (María Magdalena in Dreams), in the words of its composer, Juan Cruz-Guevara, “is based on a series of variations on a traditional Jaén tune, La carrasquilla, which I have used in a very personal way, attempting to find new ways of seeing and transforming a single theme. The first of its four pieces alternates between moments of great power and breadth and others in which melody takes precedence, creating an uneven confrontation. The second is the most lyrical and expressive—here the theme’s transformation and journey through different worlds result in its seeming to dissolve into the most ethereal of sounds. The third piece contrasts a sense of the earth’s power with the sadness that the earth itself so often imposes upon us. The fourth, whose tempo makes it perhaps the closest to the theme’s everyday nature, is interrupted by small cluster strikes which lead to the end of the work as a whole. Soñando María Magdalena is dedicated to my wife, María Magdalena.”

An early work, Grieg’s Sonata, Op. 7 (1865) was his only solo piano sonata, although the Norwegian composer wrote many other works for the instrument, notably the attractive Lyric Pieces, which effectively stand as a journal of his life. Reminiscences of Schumann can be heard here as early as the start of the Allegro moderato, whose impassioned discourse recalls the earlier composer’s Fantasie, Op. 17. In it Grieg encodes his own name (in an E minor chord motif: E-H-G [H = B in German notation]), echoing a technique employed by composers such as Bach or Shostakovich. The Andante soars to the world of poetry, such is its level of fantasy and beauty—this is something he would develop in the Lyric Pieces. The solemnity of the dense chords of the Menuetto, with its delicate central Trio, continues in the powerful Finale, where the piano is led into a series of tense contrasts, the sonata culminating in a spectacular coda.

Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro
English translation by Susannah Howe

The Jaén Prize International Piano Competition

The Jaén Prize was established in 1953. It has its roots in the old and now defunct Club Alpino, a short-lived cultural and sporting society. The prize was set up with relatively modest aims by the pianist Joaquín Reyes Cabrera and the architect Pablo Castillo García-Negrete. The Club actually gave nothing but its name to the prize, because the two prizes given in 1953 and 1954 were donated by a music-lover from Jaén, Pablo Castillo García-Negrete. It was in this year that the promoters of the prize looked for stronger sponsorship, and the result was the active and collaborative presence of the Instituto de Estudios Giennenses. The architect Pablo Castillo, member of the studies Corporation, was named adviser and the name was replaced by that of Premio Jaén de Piano (Jaén Piano Prize). At the beginning the prize was a national one, but in the 1970s it assumed international status, a position it now holds, as Gustav A. Alink, the author of a number of books on international piano competitions, confirms.

The first award of this new prize was given to Jacinto Matute in 1956 and consisted of 5,000 pesetas (30 euros). Gradually this amount has been increased, reaching the sum of 20,000 euros in 2012 for the first prize, 12,000 for the second, 8,000 for the third, 6,000 for the “Rosa Sabater” award, and another 6,000 euros for the Contemporary Music award. Since 1993 the competition has included a mandatory work written by a Spanish composer for this purpose, a composition that is subsidised by the Centro de Difusión de la Música Contemporánea of the Ministry of Culture and which, since 1997, has been published and distributed by the Provincial Assembly. The list of composers who have composed for the Prize, from 1993 to 2014, includes Manuel Castillo, Carlos Cruz de Castro, Antón García Abril, Valentín Ruiz, Ángel Oliver, Zulema de la Cruz, Tomás Marco, José García Román, Xavier Montsalvatge, José Luis Turina, Luis de Pablo, Eneko Vadillo, Leonardo Balada, Josep Soler, Joan Guinjoan, Claudio Prieto, Daniel Mateos, Juan A. Medina, José Zárate and Juan de Dios García Aguilera, Juan A. Medina and Alejandro Román.

Over the years various leading figures have served on the competition jury, including Javier Alfonso, who often served as president. After his death various leading musicians have taken this position, including Guillermo Gonzalez. Among those who have served on the competition jury are Marcelle Heuclín, Nicole Henriot, Salomon Mikowsky, Leslie Wright, Teresa Rutkowska, Valentina Kamenikova, Antonio de Raco, Hans Graf, Jean- Paul Sevilla, Ronald Farren-Price, María Fernanda Wansneider, Yuko Fujimura, Carmen Graf-Adnet, Marta Marchena, Karl-Hermann Mrongovius, Elza Kolodin, Alfred Mouledous, Ralf Nattkemper, Dag Achatz, Yukie Nagai, Rosalyn Tureck, Jean-François Heisser, and Paul Badura- Skoda, among others. Among Spanish jury-members we may mention Rosa Sabater, Joaquín Soriano, Ramón Coll, Josep Colom, Mario Monreal, Rafael Quero, Joaquín Reyes, Perfecto García Chornet, Pilar Bilbao, Esteban Sánchez, Antonio Baciero, Fernando Puchol, Julián López Gimeno, Begona Uriarte and Pedro Jiménez Cavallé, for many years secretary of the jury.

Outstanding pianists have won prizes in the competition, including the Spanish pianists Begona Uriarte, Joaquín Parra, Mario Monreal, Rafael Orozco, Joaquín Soriano, José María Pinzolas, Josep Colom and Javier Perianes. Other winners have been Boaz Sharon, Ewa Osinska, Elza Kolodin, Jean-François Heisser, Boris Bloch, Michiko Tsuda, John Salmon, Hüseyin Sermet, Benedetto Lupo, Martin Zehn, Brenno Ambrosini, Olivier Cazal, Sergei Tarasov, Anna Vinnitskaya, Ilya Rachkovsky, Yun-yi Qin, Antonii Baryshevskyi, Mladen Čolić, Marianna Prjevalskaya and many other important pianists.

Nowadays the competition attracts significant international participation. It includes three eliminating rounds and a final test with orchestra, in 2015 the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada. The Jaén Prize competition is held at the Jaén Conservatory and the Infanta Leonor Theatre.

English version: Ángel García Rus & Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro

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