Kapustin: Piano Music Vol.1
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Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 13-JUN-2000
Nikolai Kapustin is a Russian composer and jazz pianist, born in 1937. His credentials are impeccable, including studies with the great pianist Alexander Goldenweiser. Judging from this music, he would have an easy time getting a job at any cocktail lounge in America. Kapustin's jazz style is not what we usually hear in jazz-classical hybrid music, but a thoroughly contemporary "easy-listening" type of jazz that's hard to focus on, even when it's poured into classical forms like the Sonatas. The last movement of the Sonata No. 2, which concludes the disc, is a rousing allegro with good ideas and exciting virtuosity. But despite Osborne's fine playing and the excellent recorded sound, by the time that finale comes around, the listener may well have drifted off into cocktail reveries. --Leslie Gerber
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The Preludes here are more etudes,but many are deeply profound and sometimes the obvious jazz language is introduced,walking bass lines, and Weill-like dark harmonies to scour.
That aside, I found this CD to be entirely delightful, once I got over my expectation that I'd be hearing sonata-allegro or other similar procedures. And I had already had SOME idea what to expect because Marc-André Hamelin had included the Toccatina, Op. 36, on his 'Kaleidoscope' CD (also from Hyperion and highly recommended).
What we have here is a masterful compendium of piano jazz styles, everything from barrelhouse, stride and boogie to Bill Evans, Cecil Taylor, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner and Art Tatum, not to speak of the introspectively melodic close-hands technique of George Shearing and Denny Zeitlin. There is no question that Kapustin, who studied with one of the best classical piano teachers in Russia, Aleksandr Goldenweiser, and who has made his living off and on as a touring jazz pianist, has the technique to play (and write) spectacular solo jazz pieces. It is to his credit that he wrote them down--although I gather getting ahold of published copies of his music is a bit byzantine--and that young British pianist Steven Osborne has learned to play them. [One understands that there are bootleg recordings of Kapustin playing but I've never run across any of them.]
Leslie Gerber, a fine record reviewer specializing in piano music (and a fine pianist as well) dismisses this music as 'cocktail lounge' music. All I can say is that Gerber must hang out in better cocktail lounges than I've ever been to. This is superior jazz-making and it is no surprise to me that Osborne, whose own piano-playing credentials include a fine recording of Messaien's 'Vingt Regards' and a recently released CD of Alkan's 'Esquisses,' need not be embarrassed by this choice of repertoire.
So, the bottom line is this: if you like solo piano jazz and you have a taste for something a bit unusual, try this Russian 'Third Stream' music. I honestly don't think you'll be disappointed unless you imagine you're going to be hearing something like, say, Scriabin, Prokofiev or Medtner.