Author Topic: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)  (Read 2880 times)

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Offline madaboutmahler

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Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« on: March 15, 2012, 02:22:39 PM »
I hope I'm not the only one here who enjoys the music of Bortkiewicz!

Prompted to make this thread by listening again to a piece I love very much, his 2nd symphony.
Bortkiewicz wrote some of the most lyrical, poetic, melodic music I have heard. Absolutlely beautiful. Favourites include his first piano concerto (the romantic lyrical subject of the finale is one of my favourite melodies of all time!), the second symphony and his piano music. The second piano concerto is also a highly enjoyable piece! I wish more record labels would take more interest in this excellent composer. I am sure he could be enjoyed much outside the small number that know his music - especially as it is in the same vein as the Russian romantic greats such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, with the poetry of Chopin too.

Please post your thoughts here! :)

« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 02:44:41 PM by madaboutmahler »
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 02:27:58 PM »
Shame this guy didn't live about 50-75 years earlier because he would have been a very significant composer. He really knew how to write a melody and could harmonize said melodies very well. For me, he combines the beefiness of Rachmaninoff with the delicate flexibility of Chopin. The three piano concertos are a very nice set that I wish were played more instead of, say, the Rachmaninoff concertos. They are probably my favorite works of his. The second for left hand alone has some passages that to me could really fit into a 1950s film score, but in the best way possible! The piano writing also doesn't make you want to hear a right hand part, either, if you know what I mean.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 02:43:31 PM »
I'm preoccupied with so much music at the moment. I'll report back in a couple of months days. :)
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Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2012, 02:17:20 AM »
I was looking for a thread about Tchaikovsky......instead I found this one, wow! ;D

I got interested in Bortkiewicz after listening to his 2nd symphony, an absolutely powerful, beautiful piece! :)
Bortkiewicz's music is really melodic, incredibly passionate, thrilling and expressive, with a colourful and brilliant instrumentation, but also pervaded by a melancholic, lyrical atmosphere, extremely haunting. Especially his compositions for piano are very touching and harmonic, very refined.....certainly rich of beauty and power. He perfectly merged the influeces of Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov and even Wagner, creating an impressive, but original style.
Some of my favourite Bortkiewicz pieces include the symphonies (No.2 above all), the piano concertos, works for solo piano and the Violin Sonata.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 02:22:19 AM »
I have sometimes championed Bortkiewicz on the listening thread, but it is good to give him his own thread. He is an interesting character with an interesting history. The wiki link should give you a good idea of it for those interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Bortkiewicz

I would make a few recommendations in terms of discs:
Symphonies on Hyperion (oustanding):



Piano Concerto (also excellent):



There are a number of discs to be found with piano works. Hyoerion have a double disc set that is very good. There is also a new series underway that will eventually record the complete piano works (with Jouni Somero). Reviews have been quite positive so far.


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Offline springrite

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 02:55:22 AM »
Beautiful music if somewhat (well, make that very cery) derivative music. I am glad I have the ones I have (PC, symphonies and one of solo piano). On the other hand, I don't feel compelled to get more or, even if they are available, alternative versions.
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Offline Est.1965

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2012, 03:35:42 AM »
Anyone also heard his Otello orchestral piece?
Brilliance.
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2012, 08:59:37 AM »
I would make a few recommendations in terms of discs:


Those are all great recordings, Neal. My favourite Bortkiewicz recordings too.

Anyone also heard his Otello orchestral piece?
Brilliance.


No! Where can I listen to it?! :D

I was looking for a thread about Tchaikovsky......instead I found this one, wow! ;D

I got interested in Bortkiewicz after listening to his 2nd symphony, an absolutely powerful, beautiful piece! :)
Bortkiewicz's music is really melodic, incredibly passionate, thrilling and expressive, with a colourful and brilliant instrumentation, but also pervaded by a melancholic, lyrical atmosphere, extremely haunting. Especially his compositions for piano are very touching and harmonic, very refined.....certainly rich of beauty and power. He perfectly merged the influeces of Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov and even Wagner, creating an impressive, but original style.
Some of my favourite Bortkiewicz pieces include the symphonies (No.2 above all), the piano concertos, works for solo piano and the Violin Sonata.

Beautiful description of Bortkiewicz, Ilaria. I always enjoy reading your opinions of composers!


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Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2012, 09:29:10 AM »
No! Where can I listen to it?! :D

Beautiful description of Bortkiewicz, Ilaria. I always enjoy reading your opinions of composers!

Thanks Daniel, you're very kind. :)
About Bortkiewicz's Othello, you might have a listen here in the meantime:
http://classical-music-online.net/en/production/27767
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2012, 09:34:21 AM »
Thanks Daniel, you're very kind. :)
About Bortkiewicz's Othello, you might have a listen here in the meantime:
http://classical-music-online.net/en/production/27767

My pleasure, Ilaria! :)

Thank you for the link - I shall definitely listen to it soon.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2012, 10:04:04 AM »
When I read bits like "in the same vein as the Russian romantic greats such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, with the poetry of Chopin too", it makes me think of how I would describe the music of York Bowen. Has anybody heard both to be able to compare? They have similar lifespans.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2012, 11:10:22 AM »
When I read bits like "in the same vein as the Russian romantic greats such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, with the poetry of Chopin too", it makes me think of how I would describe the music of York Bowen. Has anybody heard both to be able to compare? They have similar lifespans.
Hmm. Bowen does not come to mind with that description for me, but regardless, they are fairly different. I would say that Bortkiewicz is more romantic and Bowen more modern. At least, this is how it seems to me.
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2012, 07:15:58 PM »
Funny to call Bowen 'more modern', since both were both so anti-modern and conservative. My assessment of them would be that Bortkiewicz is a bit more toward Chopin, and that Bowen is a bit more toward Rachmaninoff. You won't find that sort of Chopin-ian rubato and flexibility in Bowen at all, really.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2012, 06:19:52 AM »
Danke, both!
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2017, 02:09:01 AM »
BUMP

I'm halfway through the 9-volume series of the complete piano music played by Jouni Somero. What I find remarkable is that although his life was not particularly happy, his music is never dark or depressive. It has a most appealling bittersweet, melancholy, nostalgic and lyric quality. He literally makes the piano sing, weep, pray, dance, suffer, rejoice --- but never ostentatiously so; on the contrary, a straightforwardness in feelings and a childlike simplicity in expression pervade his oeuvre (it's probably no coincidence that many of his pieces are inspired by childhood and early youth). I have no hesitation  to put him alongside Schubert and Chopin. And I think that Rachmaninoff and Bowen (one might add Medtner), although quite similar in esthetics, are decidedly more "20-th century" than him (this is an observation, not a criticism).

EDIT: An afterthought --- too bad he was not interested in art songs; with his outstanding melodic and lyric qualities he could have produced some real gems.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 03:24:37 AM by Florestan »
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