Recording: Moscow Conservatory, November 1992
# 1 - Oleg Kagan - violin, Vladimir Skanavi - piano
# 2 - Ivan Sokolov - piano
# 3 - Tatiana Sergueieva - piano
## 4-10 - Vladimir Loukianov - violin, Konstantin Komissarov - violin, Alexandre Petrov - alto, Alexandre Gothelf - violoncelle, Yuri Slessarev - piano
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The present recording groups the essential chamber music by Nikolay Karetnikov. The Sonata for Violin and Piano, composed in 1961, is his second serial work (after the Lento Variations for piano). A diptych, it consists of a sonata form allegro followed by a second movement which resembles a scherzo, the coda of which is built on the second theme from the first movement.
The Two Pieces for piano, Op. 25 were composed in 1978. The first, very short, lively and blunt, is characterized by its cutting rhythmic structure. It serves to prepare for the second piece, acting as a prelude which concentrates the listener's attention. The second piece evokes an ascent followed by a descent in the mountaineering sense of the terms. The technical device used here is the tremolo, rare in piano music ; it provides a means of rehabilitating an orchestral formula in terms of the piano by finding a new use for it.
The Concert Piece for two pianos, Op. 23 was composed in 1970. It is an allegro with two highly contrasting themes : the first consists of sounds which are gradually grouped into an enormous cluster-chord ; the second theme is a floating scherzo, played piano but impregnated with much contained anger. Technically, this is a most difficult piece.
The Quartet, Op. 18 dates from 1962. It is a four-movement cycle, but differs considerably from the usual plan. The general idea (although the composer normally avoids any kind of programme in his instrumental music) is that of life's gradual extinction. The first movement, a sonata allegro, opposes a most lively and dislocated first theme and a more static second theme ; nevertheless, the entire movement may generally be regarded as active and is endowed with great dramatic power. The second movement is a scherzo whose rhythmic vivacity, as opposed to the first movement, is devoid of any tension : this is "lightened" music. The third movement, written in a free twelve-tone style ; introduces an amorous mood, but then the music gradually dwindles into mezza voce and silence. The finale reaches a stade of disincarnation, nirvana or lethargy. The sounds are separated by long rests, which allow the listener to feel this retrospectively.
The last work here, the Quintet, Op. 29 dates from 1990. In three movements, it begins with an allegro which contains a highly active system of internal variations, maintained in a dramatic mood. It is followed by a Nocturne which introduces a moment of relaxation, although it nevertheless possesses its own psychological evolution and climax. In the form of a rondo, the finale resembles a scherzo, sharp-edged, motorist, aggressive, and contains a fugal episode.
-Andre Lischke (translated by Charles Whitfield)