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Carl Bauman
American Record Guide, November 2011

Muza Rubackyte plays flawlessly the full-fledged romantic music of her shortlived countryman…

The recording is good and the notes are satisfactory.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

MusicWeb International, October 2011

As is evident from the recording date, this is a re-issue, previously released in 1994. It is the first of two volumes of Lithuanian composer Mikolajus Čiurlionis’s piano music originally issued by Marco Polo, now part of the Naxos stable.

…Naxos are rendering an important service to music lovers as they slowly but surely re-issue one CD after another from the massive and generally invaluable Marco Polo catalogue.

The Piano Sonata aside, all the pieces on this disc…are delightful little lyric pieces…brimming with lovely melody and harmony, now flirtatious, now introspective. Very much of their time, certainly; even rather ‘old-fashioned’, with a distinct echo of Chopin in the Preludes and Mazurkas. Not mere salon pieces, however: the Prelude VL 184, for example, is as original as it is ravishing, and into the 34 seconds of the Prelude VL 230 Čiurlionis packs a lot of imagination.

The best work though, is his only Piano Sonata…this cheerful, sunlit work clearly comes from a happy period of Čiurlionis’s sadly short life…the listener can sit back and enjoy Čiurlionis’s seemingly endless supply of mellifluous music with its folk-inspired rhythms and memorably melodic flights of fancy.

Čiurlionis’s piano music is a fair bit more straightforward than that of Liszt or Shostakovich, admittedly, but [Rubackyte] nevertheless pays it decent respect and her lovely lyrical tone and expressiveness ensure a persuasive performance.

Jed Distler, September 2011

If you enjoy the communicative immediacy and melodic appeal that typify many piano miniatures by Grieg, Dvořák, and Tchaikovsky you surely will respond to Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911), a composer who also was a painter. With the exception of a four-movement sonata, all of the works presented here are short, tuneful, and idiomatically laid out for the keyboard. Although the music’s demands are modest, Čiurlionis could fashion plenty of surprising modulations and unpredictable turns of phrase to keep listeners on their toes and sensitive pianists alert (the Preludes and the two Mazurkas, for example). …Mūza Rubackytė clearly is a sympathetic interpreter who understands how the phrases ought to ebb and flow, and appears to have been born knowing the right tempos.

James Manheim, August 2011

The album covers only the first part of the career of Ciurlionis…and the music here reflects Ciurlionis’ training at conservatories…the abstract preludes and sonata on the present release seem to refer to something beyond themselves. Sample the lovely Nocturne, VL 183 (track 7), which moves at about 1:27 from a fairly active section into a long stretch of harmonic stasis, as if a nighttime promenader had stopped and entered into a period of reflection. Rubackyté has championed Ciurlionis’ music and is alert to Lithuanian folk rhythms that others might miss. This was a good choice for reissue, recommended for those interested in the national manifestations of the Romantic piano style.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2011

The painting on the disc’s cover is by Mikalojus Ciurlionis, a young man much acclaimed both as an artist and musician before his early death aged thirty-six. He is described as Lithuanian, though, after his birth there in 1875, he was to study and work in Poland and Germany with a brief period spent in Russia. Of his composition mentors it was Reinecke at the Leipzig Conservatoire who exercised the greatest influence in the refinement of his writing. He had earlier studied the piano at the Warsaw Music Institute, and among his small catalogue of works it was keyboard music that occupied the major sector. If the titles of these early and highly pleasing scores suggest that he took inspiration from Chopin, this, apart from the Mazurka’s, proves not to be the case, for one hears more of the mood and style of Grieg. Most are quite short and present few challenges to the performer, the stormy Impromptu offering one of the discs few variants. The four movement and very attractive Sonata from 1898 is placed last, but to that point the works appear in chronological order and are derived from the period 1898 to 1902. Also born in Lithuania, but now living in Paris, the soloist is the Russian-trained Muza Rubackyte, a child prodigy who made her first major concert appearance at the age of seven. A pianist of considerable sensitivity never prone to hurry, she shapes music in that feel of natural progression. Sadly the disc’s notes are far from adequate…First appearing on the Marco Polo label in 1994, the sound is very good. A second volume will soon follow.

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