This is an obscure recording of music by two highly obscure (although Nina Makarova's name might pop up here and there-she was after all married to Aram Khatchaturian) female Russian composers-and it's a real treasure; this is great music, and it's an extremely satisfying listen. Russian Disc sifted this gem out of the Melodiya vaults (and oh can you imagine how much unknown music is sitting there waiting for it's just time to be explored?? I've said it time and again, there must be several masterpieces to say the least...gems deeply imbedded within the dark shadowy caves of Soviet/post-Soviet recording sessions) Zara Levina's 2nd Piano Concerto is a somewhat unusual concerto and each time I listen to it I discover nuances-the journey is a bit like revealing precious stones every time I mine my way through. Nina Makarova's quite substantial symphony, has an expansive sound world similar to the symphonies of her teacher, the great Nikolai Myaskovsky. Makarova conducted the premiere of her symphony in Moscow on June 12th, 1947. The Symphony is the finest work here.
Zara Levina was born in Simferopol, in the Crimea in 1906. By the age of four Zara's musical
talents started to surface; she could easily pick up music on the piano, without any prior instruction. Age the age of eleven she was admitted to the Odessa Conservatory to study the piano and graduated with honors at seventeen. In 1925 she entered the Moscow Conservatory where she studied composition with Gliere and mastered her pianistic skills with Felix Blumenfeld (among his pupils at that time were Vladimir Horowitz, Simon Barere, and his nephew and friend Heinrich Neuhaus). The music played there by Blumenfeld and his pupils left a profound impression, and fostered the young Levina's compositional thoughts. "These sessions could hardly be called lessons" Levina said. "Rather, those were endless hours of revealing the profound essence of the great art of music, its mission, its necessity.." Soon after, Levina began to study composition with Myaskovsky and upon graduating from the Moscow Conservatory in 1931, she dedicated herself entirely to composing music. She wrote in various genres including symphonic, chamber, instrumental, vocal works and songs, music for children, plays and radio productions. Her music combines a hallmark elegance, lyricism and powerful drive with a solid classical background of musical thought.
Her "Piano Concerto No. 2 (1943-1945) is the composer's response to the events of the war years. The whirling theme of the introduction is heard in the unaccompanied piano and is suggestive of the storms of war and its sudden attack. The main theme develops and changes its character gradually; alarming in the beginning, it grows ever more grim and severe, revealing both the inner tension and courage of Russia's defenders. The second theme is presented by soft lyrical sounds of the cello, and offers an air of positivity-hope surfacing during the continued days of hardship. In the recapitulation,
the general coloring of the music brightens with a lyrical theme that acquires a heroic and hymnic shade.
**In order to share the music now, I will have to continue writing later... work draws near unfortunately! Enjoy everyone.