This disc, the fifth instalment in Divine Art’s mini-cycle dedicated to Russian Piano Music, features the keyboard music of Anton Arensky. Born in 1861, Arensky’s career ran parallel with some of Russia’s most famous composers like Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky to mention but two, so his life’s work tends to be somewhat overshadowed by the achievements of his contemporaries. Still his music, that includes symphonies, concertos, chamber and instrumental pieces is extremely well crafted, and a strong melodic vein is a constant feature. Unfortunately, just like Mussorgsky, he was a compulsive gambler and drinker not to mention other vices, and as a result his health started deteriorating at an early age. He died in 1906 from sepsis due to an infected insect bite, not yet age 45.
The piano works that make up this issue reveal a master miniaturist. Many of the pieces last just over a minute, but their idiomatic timbre and graceful subtlety make them highly attractive creations. Indeed, the one real remarkable feature is their understatement and lack of bombast, but overall there is much that one can admire and enjoy.
As in the previous recordings, Anthony Goldstone’s love for this music is all too apparent, and his advocacy for these Arensky gems is splendidly accurate and spontaneous. That emotional touch is not amiss either. This is an exciting and wonderful conclusion to an innovative series full of fascinating, if not wholly memorable, surprises
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