Author Topic: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)  (Read 3219 times)

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kyjo

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Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« on: September 29, 2013, 02:50:15 PM »
There appears to be no thread on this composer until now. For shame! Esphai is quite a talented yet underrated composer. I'll reproduce some of what I wrote in the "Top 10 Works Post-1975" thread:

An ethnic Mari, Eshpai studied under Miaskovsky, Khachaturian, and others. Like Shostakovich and Schnittke, Eshpai was a chameleon of a composer. He could compose light, jazzy works like the Concerto for Trumpet, Piano, Vibraphone, Double Bass and Orchestra, tuneful, folksy works like the Symphonic Dances on Mari Themes, and dark, serious works like most of the symphonies (except no. 4, a fun-filled, jazzy work). A strong vein of lyricism runs through all of his works, no matter what their style or mood. Here's a brief and effective description of his style from Onno van Rijen's fantastic "Shostakovich and Other Soviet Composers" webpage:

His musical expressive means are very unusual due to his usage of the folklore of his native Mari people. Typically his colourful orchestral sound seems to distill the essence of the natural world of the far north. He uses syncopated rhythms; his rhythms seem to be related to the music of Bartok. He uses often alternations of ostinato-tuttis and rhythmic shifts from folklore music.


I'll provide links to recordings of his music:

   

   

   

   

   



There's a TON of his music on YouTube as well.

Anyone familiar with or want to get familiar with this composer? :)

kyjo

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 02:52:09 PM »
I compiled a list of Eshpai's compositions and recordings a while ago and posted it at the Art-Music Forum. I'll reproduce it here:

Operatic Compositions:
1968-69: Operetta "Nobody is Happier than me"
1973: Musical "Love is Forbidden"

Orchestral Compositions:
1951: Symphonic Dances on Mari Themes for orchestra: 12 minutes (Albany CD)
1952: Rhapsody "Hungarian Tunes" for violin and orchestra (or piano): 14 minutes
1954: Piano Concerto no. 1 in F-sharp minor: 28 minutes
1956: Violin Concerto no. 1 in G minor: 23 minutes
1959: Symphony no. 1 in E-flat minor: 18 minutes (Albany CD)
1962: Symphony no. 2 in A major "Praise to Light": 27 minutes (Albany CD)
1965: Symphony no. 3 "To the Memory of My Father": 26 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1966: Variations on a Theme from Myaskovsky's Symphony no. 16 for orchestra (or piano)
1966-67: Concerto Grosso for trumpet, double bass, piano, vibraphone and orchestra: 14 minutes (Albany, Russian Disc and Moscow Musical Publishers CDs)
1968: Cantata "Lenin is With Us" for chorus and orchestra: 14 minutes (Olympia CD)
1970: Festive Overture "Bells of the Kremlin" for chorus and orchestra
         Festive Overture "Kremlin Chimes" for chorus, six harps, four pianos, two violins, eight cellos and orchestra: 10 minutes (same as above composition?)
1972: Piano Concerto no. 2: 18 minutes (Albany and Russian Disc CDs)
1973: Music to the film "The Screen Star"
1974-75: Ballet "Angara" for domras, balalaika, an ensemble of two guitars, three trumpets and jazz battery and orchestra: 42 minutes
1977: Violin Concerto no. 2 "To the Memory of N. Myaskovsky": 24 minutes (Russian Disc and Moscow Musical Publishers CDs)
1979-80: Ballet "A Circle" (Albany CD)
1980-81: Symphony no. 4 "Symphony-Ballet" for jazz band and orchestra: 35 minutes (Russian Disc CD)
1981: Violin Concerto no. 2: 20 minutes (Russian Disc CD)
1982: Oboe Concerto: 17 minutes (MCA and Moscow Musical Publishers CDs)
         Symphonic Poem "Simon Bolivar": 30 minutes
1983: Songs of the Mountain and Meadow Mari for orchestra: 16 minutes (Albany CD)
1985: Symphony no. 5: 26 minutes (Russian Disc CD)
1985-86: Soprano Saxophone Concerto: 18 minutes (MCA and Moscow Musical Publishers CDs)
1987: Viola Concerto in One Movement: 21 minutes (Col Legno, Russian Disc and Moscow Musical Publishers CDs)
1988: Symphony no. 6 "Liturgic" for baritone or bass, chorus and orchestra: 30 minutes (MCA CD, re-released on a Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1989: Cello Concerto: 20 minutes
1990-92: Violin Concerto no. 3 "Bartok Concerto": 20 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1991-92: Symphony no. 7: 27 minutes (Albany CD)
1992: Flute Concerto: 20 minutes (Albany CD)
1993: Violin Concerto no. 4: 20 minutes (Albany CD)
1994: Concerto for clarinet, string orchestra, harp and timpani: 23 minutes
1994-95: Concerto for trumpet, trombone and orchestra: 20 minutes
              Concerto for double bass, bassoon and orchestra: 20 minutes (Albany CD)
1995: Concerto for horn, string orchestra and four horns in F major: 20 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1996: Fantasy-Overture (Symphonic Poem) "Suvarov's Passage over the Alps": 23 minutes
1997: "Games" for orchestra: 25 minutes
1998-99: Symphony no. 9 "Four Verses" for narrators, chorus and orchestra: 35 minutes
1999-2000: Suite for string orchestra
2001: Concerto for bassoon and string orchestra "Opus Singularis": 23 minutes
         Concerto for tuba, string orchestra and brass: 23 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
2001-02: Symphony no. 8: 23 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)

Chamber Compositions:
1946: Suite for clarinet and piano
1947: Suite "Three Mari Melodies" for clarinet and piano
1949: Prelude, Adagio and Fugue for flute and clarinet
1950: Melody and Dance for violin and piano
1953: Rhapsody "Hungarian Tunes" for violin and piano (or orchestra): 14 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1965-66: Violin Sonata no. 1: 14 minutes (Russian Disc and MCA CDs)
1970: Violin Sonata no. 2: 14 minutes (MCA CD)
1976-85: Three Pieces for solo flute (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1984: Andante and Allegro for brass quintet (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1985: Mari Melody for two cellos
1990: Cello Sonata: 25 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1991: "Accord-Discord" for string quartet: 20 minutes
1992-95: String Quartet (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1994: "Evening Shadows" for clarinet and piano (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)
1995: Rondo-Etude for four saxophones
1996: Sextet for clarinet, guitar and string quartet
1998: Meditation for flute and piano
2001: Divertimento for solo horn
2002: Espressivo molto for solo violin: 10 minutes (Moscow Musical Publishers CD)

Piano and Organ Compositions:
1947: Six Preludes for piano
1948: Easy Pieces on Folk Themes of the Peoples of the Volga District for piano
         Suite for piano
1948-50: Sonatina no. 1 in D minor
1948-70: Children's Album for piano
1948-71: 29 Pieces "Mari Folk Tunes and Songs" for piano
1949-50: Four Pieces for piano
1950: Passacaglia "In Memory of N. Miaskovsky" for organ
         Piano Sonata no. 1 in D minor
1951: Etude in E minor for piano
         Mari Folk Song "The Nightingale" arranged for piano
1952: Three Pieces for Children for piano
         Lullaby and Dance for two pianos
1953: Mari Folk Song "The Forest" arranged for piano
1955: Two Dance Pieces (Foxtrots) for piano
1956: Variations on a Theme by Glinka for piano
1961: Four Children's Songs for piano
         Simple Waltz for piano
1963: Epitaph for piano
1966: Variations on a Theme from Myaskovsky's Symphony no. 16 for piano (or orchestra)
         Lyrical Piece "Alexandria" for piano
1968: "Play" for piano
         Rondo-Etude for piano
1969: Etude in A minor for piano
         Three Jazz Melodies for piano
          Three Preludes for piano
          Fifteen Mari Melodies for piano
1970: "Meter and Rhythm" for piano
         Transcriptions "Eight French Songs" for piano
1970-73: Arrangements of Mari Folk Songs for piano
1971: Sonatina no. 2 in G major
1973: Prelude for organ
         "Mari Bagpipe" for piano
1975: Dance from the Ballet "Angara" for two pianos
         Two Sad Melodies for piano
          Hungarian songs and tunes "Hungarian Notebook" for piano
1976: Musical offering "DSCH" to Dmitri Shostakovich for piano: 10 minutes
1979: "Hating Melody" for piano
         Two Spanish Songs for piano
1980: Two Preludes for piano
         "Russian Playing Songs" for two pianos
1981: Two Pieces for piano
         Three Mari Melodies for piano
         Dance on a Mari Melody for piano
1983: Mari Melody "Song of an Oak Tree" for piano
1987: "Four Pieces in Difficult Keys" for piano







         

Offline springrite

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 02:54:26 PM »
I have three Eshpai CDs, all from the Russian Disc label. I quite like them. I was expecting something either more modern or more eccentric because the cover was suggesting that. But the music is not. But that does not mean they are overly conservative. They are, well, not modern nor eccentric, but still interesting and can certainly be unconventional and spill a few surprises here and there.
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kyjo

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2013, 02:59:16 PM »
I have three Eshpai CDs, all from the Russian Disc label. I quite like them. I was expecting something either more modern or more eccentric because the cover was suggesting that. But the music is not. But that does not mean they are overly conservative. They are, well, not modern nor eccentric, but still interesting and can certainly be unconventional and spill a few surprises here and there.

Yes, Eshpai's music strikes me as a near-perfect balance between approachability (which is often regarded as a dirty word when describing modern music but SHOULDN'T!) and unpredictability. His music would be a hit with audiences, I would think. He's not an emotionally tortured composer like Schnittke, but his music has much substance and variety.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2013, 03:47:21 PM »
The Fifth Symphony on Russian Disc is terrific in my view, rather in the spirit of Shostakovich's 'Leningrad Symphony'. I find it to be poignant, memorable and moving. Almost as good is No 4 on the same CD. This is the best Eshpai disc I know.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

kyjo

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2013, 03:52:42 PM »
The Fifth Symphony on Russian Disc is terrific in my view, rather in the spirit of Shostakovich's 'Leningrad Symphony'. I find it to be poignant, memorable and moving. Almost as good is No 4 on the same CD. This is the best Eshpai disc I know.

Yes, Symphony no. 5 is Eshpai's best work-perhaps even deserving of the title "masterpiece".

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2013, 03:56:23 PM »
Yes, Symphony no. 5 is Eshpai's best work-perhaps even deserving of the title "masterpiece".

I agree.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2013, 07:23:44 PM »
I've been listening to Eshpai recently and he is very good.

I have downloaded the four Albany disks and also got hold of a couple of the Russian Music CDs second-hand.

Eshpai's music is so vital and joyful, even the sad and violent bits don't seem too bad. I think he's at his best when he is using or imitating Mari folk-music. I think the Symphonies 4 & 5 are the best of his works that have been recorded, but of the two I prefer the Symphony No.4. It sounds like the Rite of Spring done with real folk-music (oh, and less violent and manic).

BTW the Mari are not doing too well at the moment, they were persectued under the Czarist regime for not converting to Orthodoxy, they didn't fare too badly under Communism, but are now being discriminated against by the administration representing the majority Russian population in their "autonomous Republic" because they are not Orthodox, "sigh"!

Online CRCulver

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2013, 04:35:32 AM »
BTW the Mari are not doing too well at the moment, they were persectued under the Czarist regime for not converting to Orthodoxy, they didn't fare too badly under Communism, but are now being discriminated against by the administration representing the majority Russian population in their "autonomous Republic" because they are not Orthodox, "sigh"!

FWIW, I am a linguist working with Mari and often go to Mari El for fieldwork. Russian oppression is not due to their non-Orthodox beliefs, but rather they share the fate of any ethnic minority in Russia: look how the neighbouring Erzya, Moksha and Chuvash peoples are not doing too well even though they have been Orthodox for centuries. Plus, Mari traditional religion is not taken seriously by the majority of Mari people. The Finno-Ugrian minorities have it somewhat worse than others, inasmuch as there has been paranoia going back to the time of Stalin that if you allow these peoples a bit of freedom, they will start conspiring with Finland and the rest of the West against Russia.

Didn’t fare too badly under Communism?! Almost their entire intelligentsia was murdered by Stalin in 1937, a blow from which they have never quite recovered. Any attempt to raise the profile of Mari in public in Yoshkar-Ola was sanctioned from the time of Stalin until glasnost'.

While Eshpai’s music may have its audience and I am not one to knock it, he shouldn’t be seen as the voice of the Mari, as he made a lot of compromises with the Soviet government to advance his career and he only presents a watered-down version of Mari culture acceptable to Soviet norms. (His case is similar to that of the dramatist Shketan, who was also put forth by the Soviet government as a great Mari artist in spite of, or rather because of, his betrayal of his people.)
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 04:47:24 AM by CRCulver »

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2013, 02:32:33 PM »
CRCulver, I defer to your superior knowledge, what you report is even worse than what I'd thought as it sounds like Russian nationalism has reached a stage like that of the second stage of C19 European anti-Jewish sentiment:

1st stage: we hate you because you're not Christian, convert and we will tolerate you
2nd stage: even if you convert we will still hate you

As for Stalin having the Mari intellectuals murdered, he also had large numbers of Russian intellectuals murdered, I didn't think that he specifically targeted ethnic minorities unless there were specific reasons (even if not very good ones).

I don't think I implied that Eshpai was some sort of romantic folk-artist, merely that he is at his best when dealing with folk-like material. I'm quite aware of his career as a soviet composer.


Offline Wieland

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2015, 07:20:47 AM »
This year Mari composer Andrej Eshpai turned 90. Ever since I listened to his 4th and 5th symphonies about 20 years ago he is one of my favourite 20th century russian composers. The Mari are a small folk (600,000) of finish-ugurian origin living in the Mari republic at the Wolga river. Their history can be traced back to pre-christian times. They still have local traditions, a nature religion and they speak their own language.

Andrei Yakovlevich Eshpai was born 15 May 1925 at Kozmodemyansk, Mari. A Red Army World War II veteran, he studied piano at Moscow Conservatory from 1948 to 1953 under Vladimir Sofronitsky, and composition under Nikolai Rakov, Nikolai Myaskovsky and Evgeny Golubev. He performed his postgraduate study under Aram Khachaturian from 1953 to 1956.

Eshpai's music is tonal, easy accessible and brilliantly orchestrated. He still is capable of writing melodies, obviously also fed by Mari folklore. His music is immediately recognizable as being from him which usually is a sign of a great artist.  If you like Stravinsky, Prokofieff and Shostakovich you should give him a try.

Eshpai mainly composed for the orchestra, e.g. 9 symphonies and solo concerto for essentially all possible instruments.

Sinfonie Nr.1 es-moll (1959)
Sinfonie Nr.2 a-moll "Praise of the Light" (1962)
Sinfonie Nr.3 "In memory of my father" (1964)
Sinfonie Nr.4 "Sinfonie-Ballett" (1980/81)
Sinfonie Nr.5 (1985)
Sinfonie Nr.6 "Liturgische" für Bariton, Chor und Orchester (1989)
Sinfonie Nr.7 (1991/92)
Sinfonie Nr.8 (2000)
Sinfonie Nr.9 "Vier Verse" für Erzähler, Chor und Orchester (1998/99?)

Sinfonische Tänze auf Mari-Themen (1951)
Konzert für Orchester Nr.1 "Concerto grosso" (1967)
Konzert für Orchester Nr.2 "Spiele" (1997)

"Ungarische Weisen", Rhapsodie für Violine und Orchester (1952/53)
Klavierkonzert Nr.1 fis-moll (1954)
Violinkonzert Nr.1 g-moll (1956)
Klavierkonzert Nr.2 (1972)
Violinkonzert Nr.2 (1977)
Oboenkonzert (1982)
Sopransaxofonkonzert (1986/87)
Violakonzert (1987)
Violoncellokonzert (1989)
Violinkonzert Nr.3 "Bartók-Concerto" (1990-92)
Flötenkonzert (1992)
Violinkonzert Nr.4 (1994)
Klarinettenkonzert (1994)
Konzert für Trompete, Posaune und Orchester (1994/95)
Kontrabasskonzert (1994/95)
Hornkonzert F-Dur (1995)
Fagottkonzert "Opus singularis" (2001)
Tubakonzert (2001)

In addition two full length ballets:
"Angara", Ballett (1974/75)
"A circle", Ballett (1979/80)
From the latter the 4. symphony was destilled.

The discographic situation is not very satisfactory. Most recordings were done by Melodiya during SU times and have only irregularly appeared on some Russian labels. Albany obviously had the chance to publish material from melodiya for 4 CDs which are the main body currently available. They cover symphonies 1,2, and 7. A Russian disc still available cover 4 + 5. 3 + 6 as well as many concertos can be at least heard on youtube. Many available recordings are only in soso sound.
I really hope that one day soon one of the more adventurous companies (Chandos, cpo) will take up the Eshpai case.

Offline Wieland

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2015, 07:22:35 AM »


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2015, 07:41:09 AM »
“Music is enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not enough for music.” - Sergei Rachmaninov

Offline Wieland

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2015, 08:04:46 AM »
oops, it is not listed in the index, too bad. So maybe a moderator can move my post to that thread.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2015, 10:28:20 AM »
Symphony 5 is a great work IMHO which I often listen to.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2015, 02:11:01 PM »
I really hope that one day soon one of the more adventurous companies (Chandos, cpo) will take up the Eshpai case.
I'd  guess Toccata would be the most likely company.

Offline Scion7

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2015, 08:42:46 AM »
Died today, aged 90.  Stroke.   :-X

( sacred Admin power required to modify main topic listing for year of death )

Also, is there some way to merge the two composer threads on this musician?
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 09:21:19 AM by Scion7 »
If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians. - H.P. Lovecraft

Offline Wieland

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2015, 10:53:00 AM »
Yeah, that's sad news. I hope it will at least result in some passing interest in his music. For me his music will remain. R.I.P.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2015, 12:17:17 PM »
Died today, aged 90.  Stroke.   :-X

( sacred Admin power required to modify main topic listing for year of death )

Also, is there some way to merge the two composer threads on this musician?
Sad news but good that he had a long life. Will listen to Symphony 5 in tribute.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Scion7

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Re: Andrej Eshpai (1925 - 2015)
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2015, 04:30:23 AM »
His composing days had been over for quite some time, I would think, too.
If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians. - H.P. Lovecraft

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