Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Goedicke - Koncertstück For Piano And Orchestra

During the Soviet reign of Russia, many composers and other artists got into trouble with the authorities because they refused to kow-tow to  'official' Soviet ideals about art.  These Soviet 'ideals' didn't reflect an actual aesthetic of art as much as what the big shots in charge liked or didn't like.  Sometimes it had nothing to do with the art of the accused, but everything to do with how well the powers that be thought they could control the person in question. Especially if, for whatever reason, the artist was disliked, it was likely to spell their doom.

After the Russian revolution of 1917, some notable artists did leave the country. In music, the names of Rachmaninoff the composer/pianist, Horowitz the pianist and Chaliapin, the Bass singer come to mind. Others chose to stay, some were done away with, some like Shostaskovich lived the rest of their lives in fear. But there were those who didn't get into trouble, mostly by not making waves.  Russian's a big country, and if a composer chose to remain somewhat anonymous, or didn't cause official displeasure at any rate.  Alexander Goedicke appears to have been a survivor, for he lived until 1957, the year he turned 80 years old.  He was much better known in Eastern Europe as a composer and performer on the piano and organ. He was well regarded for his interpretations of J.S. Bach's organ works.

Although Goedicke was a  professor at the Moscow Conservatory,  he had no formal training as a composer. He studied piano performance at the conservatory, but managed to win the Anton Rubinstein prize in  composition in 1900 when he was 23 years old.  He wrote 3 symphonies, concertos, many piano pieces, operas and other pieces, nearly a hundred opus numbers worth. He is mostly remembered for his Concert Etude for Trumpet.

The Koncertstück is a Romantic piece, steeped in the same harmonies and musical world as the music of Rachmaninoff and Glazunov. It opens with a gentle horn call, which is taken up by the soloist. The piano part is highly decorative. The main theme is finally heard in the piano, a melody that is big and strong, very Russian in character in my opinion. Another theme is stated by the orchestra, very similar to the preceding one. This is expanded by soloist and orchestra, snatches of preceding motifs are played. The piano decorates the orchestral renditions until the recapitulation of the first theme appears.  Bits and pieces of the second theme (and others) are heard, and after a  short cadenza, themes combine and play against each other until the finale begins with thundering chords in the piano and a noble theme heard in the brass. The piano writing is brilliant, the orchestra states its business with the piano grandly summing up and the piece comes to a close.

This piece is more than enough to whet my appetite to hear more of Goedicke's music.  Sadly, not much of it has been recorded and some that has been recorded is out of print.

Goedicke - Koncertstück For Piano And Orchestra

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