Author Topic: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)  (Read 489 times)

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Offline kyjo

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Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« on: September 29, 2018, 06:22:43 AM »
Was surprised to find no existing thread on this composer! I've always been an admirer of his music, particularly the gorgeously melancholic String Quartet no. 2 (with two cellos) and wonderfully tuneful Piano Trio no. 1. It must be said though, that I found his two symphonies to be on a decidedly lower plane of inspiration, save for the lovely slow movement of no. 2 which features an extended cello solo. Over the past few days, I've been listening with great pleasure to his absolutely delightful, endlessly tuneful and inventive suites for two pianos, of which there are five (there also appear to be orchestral versions of nos. 2 and 3). The CPO recording with Piano Duo Genova and Dimitrov really brings out these works' sparkling felicities. Any other admirers of Arensky?
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Florestan

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2018, 07:44:51 AM »
Was surprised to find no existing thread on this composer! I've always been an admirer of his music, particularly the gorgeously melancholic String Quartet no. 2 (with two cellos) and wonderfully tuneful Piano Trio no. 1. It must be said though, that I found his two symphonies to be on a decidedly lower plane of inspiration, save for the lovely slow movement of no. 2 which features an extended cello solo. Over the past few days, I've been listening with great pleasure to his absolutely delightful, endlessly tuneful and inventive suites for two pianos, of which there are five (there also appear to be orchestral versions of nos. 2 and 3). The CPO recording with Piano Duo Genova and Dimitrov really brings out these works' sparkling felicities. Any other admirers of Arensky?

Yes! Count me in as a big fan of this most charming Russian Romantic. The Piano Trio No. 1 is indeed a masterpiece. His solo piano and two pianos music is absolutely gorgeous. His orchestral music, while not at the same level of Tchaikovsky's (but then again very few can match it, Russian or not), has it moments and is never less than delightful. One of my top 5 Russian composers.
“Not what man knows but what man feels, concerns art. All else is science." — Bernard Berenson

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2018, 08:48:26 AM »
Just a few of his works are familiar to me (the 2 symphonies, the piano trios and the string quartets). The symphonies, as you mention, are not at the same level to, say, Tchaikovsky or Glazunov, but they are enjoyable enough. I've read some good commentaries about his Piano Quintet in D major. He also wrote a ballet Egyptian Nights. Do you know how it is? Is it any good?

Offline kyjo

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2018, 09:05:08 PM »
Yes! Count me in as a big fan of this most charming Russian Romantic. The Piano Trio No. 1 is indeed a masterpiece. His solo piano and two pianos music is absolutely gorgeous. His orchestral music, while not at the same level of Tchaikovsky's (but then again very few can match it, Russian or not), has it moments and is never less than delightful. One of my top 5 Russian composers.

I suspected you’d be an Arensky fan, Andrei! ;)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline kyjo

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 09:06:07 PM »
Just a few of his works are familiar to me (the 2 symphonies, the piano trios and the string quartets). The symphonies, as you mention, are not at the same level to, say, Tchaikovsky or Glazunov, but they are enjoyable enough. I've read some good commentaries about his Piano Quintet in D major. He also wrote a ballet Egyptian Nights. Do you know how it is? Is it any good?

I’m not familiar with Egyptian Nights, or his Piano Quintet for that matter. Must seek them out.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2018, 10:17:05 PM »
Love me some Arensky!!!!!!!!!!

I must strongly disagree about (some of) the mischaracterizations being made about his symphonies. They are marvelous works, with tremendous color and melody. I think his first symphony is probably one of my favorite works. Both symphonies can be found on Chandos. If you don't like the symphonies, I am not sure you will enjoy Egyptian Nights or his suites (Naxos). They all have some commonalities, but the ballet is not quite as coherent as other ballets, despite some lovely songs throughout. I quite like them though, and the suites too.

Love the concertos too (Hyperion series). I'd start with the piano concerto, in part because of the delightful coupling with Bortkiewicz. The Arensky is enjoyable but is short at about 20 minutes. If you like the series, you will probably like this one too.

I also love the piano works. There are two good discs I know, with Coombs (Hyperion) and Goldstone (Divine Art). They don't overlap. Both have a dreamy quaiity, particularly the Coombs disc (where the pieces lend themselves to this more vs the preludes and etudes performed by Goldstone). Both are excellent though. If you love romantic piano, these are wonderful discs. There are numerous versions of the suite for two pianos, so I'll leave that to others.

As to chamber, my first disc recommendation would be the Ying Quartet (Sono Luminus), where they perform the string quartets and the piano quartet. Someone here recommended them first, but I don't remember who anymore.

I'll post covers later when I can...
« Last Edit: September 30, 2018, 10:22:55 PM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2018, 01:55:40 AM »
Here are some covers for those who prefer that:

The string/piano quartet disc:



Concertos





Piano




Ballet



Suites





Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2018, 04:00:54 AM »
I have some Arensky including 'Egyptian Nights' and 'Dream on the Volta' which I quite enjoy although I tend to have them as they are coupled on CD with works that I actually wanted such as Ippolitov Ivanov's 'Caucasian Sketches' or Miaskovsky Symphony 21. I guess that I tend to prefer the music of Russian composers of a slightly later generation or who lived longer like Miaskovsky or Glazunov.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline kyjo

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2018, 04:59:48 AM »
Love me some Arensky!!!!!!!!!!

I must strongly disagree about (some of) the mischaracterizations being made about his symphonies. They are marvelous works, with tremendous color and melody. I think his first symphony is probably one of my favorite works. Both symphonies can be found on Chandos. If you don't like the symphonies, I am not sure you will enjoy Egyptian Nights or his suites (Naxos). They all have some commonalities, but the ballet is not quite as coherent as other ballets, despite some lovely songs throughout. I quite like them though, and the suites too.

Love the concertos too (Hyperion series). I'd start with the piano concerto, in part because of the delightful coupling with Bortkiewicz. The Arensky is enjoyable but is short at about 20 minutes. If you like the series, you will probably like this one too.

I also love the piano works. There are two good discs I know, with Coombs (Hyperion) and Goldstone (Divine Art). They don't overlap. Both have a dreamy quaiity, particularly the Coombs disc (where the pieces lend themselves to this more vs the preludes and etudes performed by Goldstone). Both are excellent though. If you love romantic piano, these are wonderful discs. There are numerous versions of the suite for two pianos, so I'll leave that to others.

As to chamber, my first disc recommendation would be the Ying Quartet (Sono Luminus), where they perform the string quartets and the piano quartet. Someone here recommended them first, but I don't remember who anymore.

I'll post covers later when I can...

Great to see such enthusiasm for Arensky! I’ll be sure to give the symphonies another try. Perhaps I was too harsh in my assessment of them - I meant to express that I just didn’t quite find them on the level of some of his chamber works, though they’re both very enjoyable works in their own right.

Regarding the Ying Quartet recording of his chamber works - the performances are undoubtedly fantastic, but I do regret that they chose to record the version of the 2nd quartet for standard string quartet instead of the original version for violin, viola, and 2 celli, which gives the work its uniquely dark, rich sound-world.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Florestan

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2018, 05:37:48 AM »
Regarding the Ying Quartet recording of his chamber works - the performances are undoubtedly fantastic, but I do regret that they chose to record the version of the 2nd quartet for standard string quartet instead of the original version for violin, viola, and 2 celli, which gives the work its uniquely dark, rich sound-world.

Here is the original version I have:



and it's very good.

I also recommend you the piano trios in this excellent version:



I have all the discs posted by Neal save the Yablonsky ones and I endorse the recommendation.

For piano music try also these:





“Not what man knows but what man feels, concerns art. All else is science." — Bernard Berenson

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2018, 03:05:13 PM »


The Arensky's Piano Quintet is a lovely piece with some good tunes, lyrical and elegant rather than virtuoso and angry. I listened to the performance on the CD. The playing is superb and clear.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2018, 11:54:09 AM »
My box set of music conducted by Alexander Gauk contains three short and enjoyable orchestral works by Arensky of which I liked the March, in memory of Suvorov and, in particular, the rather lovely 'In the Fields' from 'Characteristic Pieces for Piano.'

He was the teacher of Rachmaninov and Scriabin (whom he didn't understand). The booklet also contains this short description of Arensky in later life: 'a strange man, drunken, debauched, flighty and unpredictably irascible' also unreliable in meeting commitments (like Liadov?) or commissions. Tchaikovsky admired his music.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline kyjo

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2018, 06:59:21 PM »
My box set of music conducted by Alexander Gauk contains three short and enjoyable orchestral works by Arensky of which I liked the March, in memory of Suvorov and, in particular, the rather lovely 'In the Fields' from 'Characteristic Pieces for Piano.'

He was the teacher of Rachmaninov and Scriabin (whom he didn't understand). The booklet also contains this short description of Arensky in later life: 'a strange man, drunken, debauched, flighty and unpredictably irascible' also unreliable in meeting commitments (like Liadov?) or commissions. Tchaikovsky admired his music.

Interesting stuff, Jeffrey! If you haven't checked it out yet, I think you'd enjoy his String Quartet no. 2, with its haunting, chant-like passages.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2018, 11:20:59 PM »
Interesting stuff, Jeffrey! If you haven't checked it out yet, I think you'd enjoy his String Quartet no. 2, with its haunting, chant-like passages.

Sounds like a must! Thanks Kyle  :)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

 

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