David Aladashvili | Piano | Opus 13
“… I have always had a fascination with the number 13 – while most associate it with being unlucky, I feel quite the opposite. My obsession with this number now translates into my first recording, a program based around the number 13 – the works by Schumann and Scriabin, Opus 13, and 13 “new” works, a sort of suite created for me and premiered by me, by 13 promising young composers. I recorded this recital program on Friday, September 13, 2013 and planned the CD’s release for Friday, December 13th, 2013…” ~ David Aladashvili
Scriabin Preludes, Opus 13
Fascinating as it is to find in the early works of a great artist the DNA of the future master- Kandinsky’s landscapes, Proust’s “Les Plaisirs et les Jours'”, Mozart’s “Bastien et Bastienne,” it is at least as interesting to find in the work of a young artist explorations of paths not taken. The second movement of Beethoven’s Second Concerto, the finale of Brahms’ opus 2, some of the Bartok Bagatelles- these are all wonderful early works, which do not quite fit our expectations. Such is the case with these six preludes, opus 13. Having already composed in his opus 11 a set of 24 preludes based on the key sequence of Chopin’s opus 28, Scriabin here began a new cycle of preludes, which he continued in opus 15 and 16 but then, in opus 17, broke away from the pattern of keys.
These pieces show complete mastery of compositional and pianistic style. The influence of Chopin in early Scriabin has often been noted, and yet the music does not sound at all like Chopin. For one thing the harmonies mostly lack Chopin’s daring-it helps to appreciate Chopin’s a minor prelude if one compares it with Scriabin’s- and the four-measured phrases lack Chopin’s ingeniousness. On the other hand, there is, in the colored seventh and ninth chords, which swirl somewhat treacherously or march (as in the c major prelude) ominously, a suggestion of a world outside Chopin’s vision. This is not yet the Scriabin whose synthesis of Eros, Wagner and Mme. Blavatsky still brings chills and thrills to listeners, but it is, without reference to the future, beautiful music.
Schumann Symphonic Etudes, Opus 13
Even more than Schumann’s other works, the Symphonic Etudes, opus 13, seem on the surface like a palimpsest of hommages and allusions, both musical and personal. The composer’s original title was Variations Pathetiques, suggested by Beethoven’s Sonate Pathetique, opus 13. Deciding, however, that the work was becoming too sentimental, he rejected the title, as well as five of the more expressive variations, which were later published without his consent as “Posthumous Variations.” After considering other rather fanciful titles, he finally chose “Symphonic Etudes. In general, Schumann was reluctant to call variations “variations,” probably because of the low artistic state into which the form had fallen after the death of Beethoven.
For the theme, Schumann borrowed a flute tune, composed by Baron von Fricken, the illegitimate but devoted father of Ernestine von Fricken, Schumann’s fiancée (whom he had already immortalized as “Estrella” in the Carnaval, opus 9). Presumably, the work was to have been dedicated to the Baron. By the time of publication, however (1837), Schumann’s interest in Ernestine had cooled, and the Baron’s name was demoted to a footnote as an unnamed amateur. Meanwhile, Schumann had, to the annoyance of both Clara Wieck (the future Clara Schumann) and Mendelssohn, become involved in an intense friendship with the English composer William Sterndale Bennett. It was to Bennett that he finally dedicated the work. Furthermore, he based the triumphant final variation on an English tune, “Proud England Rejoice,” which had been used by the composer Marschner for a march tune in his opera based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel “Ivanhoe.” The name of the opera was Der Templar und die Judin (The Knight and the Jewess- Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor on the screen) and the words sung to the march begin Wer ist der Ritter hoch geehrt- Who is the knight of high esteem). All this was a tribute to Schumann’s English friend. The work was excerpted in performance by Clara, in a Leipzig recital one month before her 18th birthday. At first Schumann was upset, feeling that Clara was meddling in his complicated personal relations, but when he heard her perform his music he melted.
As for the music, it remains one of the miracles of musical Romanticism. The imaginative form of each variation, cast in a masterful orchestral texture, looks backward to late Beethoven and forward to Liszt and Schonberg. There are tributes to Paganini, Mendelssohn, and Bach, but every note speaks from the creative psyche of Robert Schumann. ~ Jerome Lowenthal
Gity Razaz – Light
“Light” is my shortest composition so far for solo piano. When David explained the concept of his debut album, I was intrigued by its rather intimate theme and ingenuity. The challenging part of the puzzle was: how to write a piece of music that says what it needs to say in one minute. And the answer came to me not at once, but as I was composing the piece: two chords that re-appear throughout the piece become the foundation of all sounds, and everything else is a “mingling of light” with shadows.
Jules Matton – Presto furioso
I wrote my Presto Furioso in one night. When David asked me to write a short piece for his record, being our tumultuous friendship, I couldn’t think writing anything else than something furious, despite the fact that my music is often very slow and meditative. I wrote this piece the same way that the listener should receive it, as one lightning of emotion, a dyonisian momentum without rest, one linear moment suspended in a toxic and barbaric environment. One can hear the piece as an homage to Bartok’s Allegro Barbaro, but its postmodernism makes it, I hope, more insane, more out of control, and true to the image of our lost time.
Simon Frisch – Prelude
This short Prelude for piano unfolds in leaping voices, forming harmonies that contradict and compel each other. Much of the music is restive and continuous, but a phrase on occasion cadences as the voices contract into softening chords.
Paul Frucht – Bagatelle No. 1
Bagatelle for Piano No. 1 is the first several bagatelles written for piano. In this miniature, I had two goals. The first was to challenge myself to take a dramatic, typically large-scale arc, and compress it to be roughly 2 minutes. Within this form, the second goal was to present a melody piece-by-piece culminating in a finale-like fanfare, before collapsing back into the opening chords. In addition to the formal goals, the thematic focus of this bagatelle is on the various patterns and how they emerge from the harmony while providing motives from which the melody is extracted.
Matt Nakoa – Saperavi
This piece was conceived after a dinner party with friends, not the least of whom was Mr. Aladashvili. We stayed up very late, enjoying the namesake Georgian wine and listening to old Georgian singers on vinyl. He grinned through blackened lips as he told me of the Opus 13 project. It was as great an inspiration as any. Saperavi is equal parts rich, harmonious taste and exotic astringency, much like the pianist himself.
Yuri Boguinia – a minor prayer
a minor prayer is a meditation in the key of a minor, a musical key that due to its pure and translucent sonority is often associated with the feeling of melancholy. This work begins as a contemplative reverie and builds in intensity. The purity of the a minor sonority is tainted by the addition of pitches which do not belong to the key. As the we approach the end, the chromatic pitches begin to fade and we are left with a bright C major which resonates into infinity. This work is dedicated to my dear friend, pianist David Aladashvili.
David Hertzberg – Largo Desolato
Largo Desolato is the first of a set of four lyrical miniatures for piano. It is, invariably, what one makes of it…
Jan Stoneman – Celtlilá
Lilá is game. According to my meditation teacher Sri Eknath Easwaran, “the entire universe is lila, and it is the Lord, simultaneously wearing countless billions of masks, who plays all the parts.” Add this observation to Celtic music . . . and you get Celtlilá. What happens when you compose for piano using a bagpipe’s technique? Less pitches and continuous sound. The bagpipe cannot rest—it can only create the illusion of silence. Celtlilá draws on David’s flair for theater by playing with different masks of silence.
Aaron Severini – Mini
Mini, for solo piano, was composed in New York City and was completed on August 9, 2013. I was very excited and honored when David Aladashvili approached me about writing him the solo and immediately felt it should be as bubbly as his personality. Mini is a short and sprightly encore piece that goes flying by like a New York City subway train. It encompasses the full range of the piano along with quick rhythmic and dynamic fluctuations. The piece starts with no introduction, as if it had been going for quite some time and the audience just happened to catch the last minute. Mini is approximately one minute long.
Yuri Bakker – Weinerei
One warm summer evening of September 2013, “Weinerei” was conceived by Dutch pianist, composer and close friend Yuri Bakker for Aladashvili in a small intimate Berlin wine bar of the same name. Comfortably nestled on a sofa among candles and fine wine, Bakker composed these tranquil twenty-two bars of music using whatever paper he could find before sending the piece only days before its premiere at The Concert Hall of USF.
W. D. A. – “Thirteen”
“Treize notes” …
Alexey Gorokholinsky – Her Piano is Dreaming
“Her Piano is Dreaming” is an electronic ambient piece made purely out of samples of the piano (which were created together with David Aladashvili). Initial samples, except for small excerpts of playing, were created with the help of specifically prepared piano strings and different methods of excitation them and other different parts of the piano (such as scratching the surface of the lid, sliding finger nails across the keyboard, using the reverb of the strings with sustain pedal down as a separate instrument). Later, many of the initial samples were processed with FM and Granular synthesis to give even more dream-like timbres and colors. The piece itself is supposed to evoke a sense of tranquility and stretched time, similar to the one experienced in my childhood during Moscow winters, when all you could see outside in the window was grey sky, and almost no movement except for slowly falling snow.
Braam van Eeden – “Farewell” Etude
During my studies I got tired of playing and listening to the same Etudes over and over again, so I figured there is a need of a new set of etudes in the repertoire, thus came the composition of the 12 Études Carattere EWV 83. I have great respect for J. S. Bach so I followed the method, which Chopin also used in his preludes, of composing an etude on each of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. They are all in the minor keys, except for the middle one, starting from C and chromatically making its way to B. The last etude in the set is in B minor with the nickname Farewell, for it ends the set of 12 Etudes, has a very nostalgic South African folk-like character in the middle section and in the closing section it modulates to C again, there for ending in C major, completing the cycle in the key the whole set started.