Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko (1939-2010)
Complete Works for Piano
Sonata No.1, Op. 3/121 (1957/1995)
1. Sostenuto 11:59
2. Presto 7:52
3. Sostenuto dolce 11:39
4. Allegro resolute 9:50
Egosuite, Op. 6 (1957)
5. Character 0:21
6. Think First, Then Speak 0:26
7. For the Sake of a Witty Remark 1:03
8. A Lyrical Attempt 1:50
9. Unrestraint 2:37
10. Still I 0:26
Sonata No.2, Op.17 (1960)
11. Allegro 9:01
12. Andante 6:33
13. Vivace 5:37
Three Riddles, Op.19 №1 (1960)
14. Riddle 1 0:45
15. Riddle 2 0:12
16. Riddle 3 0:46
Three Polyphonudes, Op.19 №2 (1960)
17. Polyphonude 1 0:37
18. Polyphonude 2 0:45
19. Polyphonude 3 1:54
Total Time: 74:38
Dinara Mazitova, piano (1-10, 14-19)
Boris Tishchenko, piano (11-13)
Recorded by the St. Petersburg Recording Studio at the St. Catherine Lutheran Church,
St. Petersburg: Sonata No.1 (May 25, 2005, sound recording and supervision: Kira Malevskaya);
Egosuite (November, 17, 2008, sound recording and supervision: Victor Dinov); Three Riddles and Three Polyphonudes (April, 26, 2012, sound recording and supervision: Alexei Barashkin);
Recorded from the concert at the House of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) Composers: Sonata No.2 (1963, sound recording and supervision: Mikhail Kustov)
Piano music is one of the most important domains in the heritage of Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko. He addressed it when still a student, performing the Variations for Piano at the Conservatory entrance examinations, and already that opus fully demonstrated the originality and verve of his style. Of course, the active interest in piano was primarily determined by the fact that Tishchenko studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music and at the Conservatory both as composer and as pianist (it should be reminded that among his teachers were excellent musicians V. Mikhelis and A. Logovinsky). Moreover, it was in the author’s interpretations that many of his works were presented, such as the First Piano Concerto and piano sonatas.
Typical for Tishchenko’s performing style was an inimitable manner of intoning, a strong and manly sound fascinating with its brutal energy, where every nuance and detail is however clearly distinguishable. It is much the same with interpreting of the piano texture. The primary things in it are clear lines, graphically strict outline of thematism, linear exactitude – and the ability to hear the volume of the vertical filling nearly all of the acoustic space of the instrument.
No wonder that the style origins of Boris Tishchenko’s piano music are also extremely diversified. A keen ear will identify in it echoes of works by Shostakovich and Prokofiev, Hindemith and Bartok… Anyway, its artistic space is so forceful and attractive that “a stranger’s word” too gets a new, original sound in it. It retains its identifiability in all genres, among which are variations, cycles of pieces, and sonatas. The sonatas are the most tangible part of the composer’s heritage; he addressed this genre throughout his life. Also, noticeable are parallels with another, and no less important domain, which is symphony. The progressive drama of conflicts, the scale of development, and even the dynamic volume of sound requiring not only emotional but also physical endurance from the performer – all that resembles the symphonic genre of all things, albeit solved in the context of the piano’s capabilities. Each sonata of Tishchenko is unique in respect of both thematism and compositional solution. The story of each of the compositions is unique too.
The Second Piano Sonata was written as early as in the fourth year of the Conservatory, in 1960 (with the first sonata existing for a long time just as a set of sketches). When Shostakovich heard it performed by the author at a student concert, he decided to invite the composer top his class. Later, it was this work that won the Glinka State Prize of Russia. The sonata is dedicated to Maria Veniaminovna Yudina, an outstanding Russian (who performed several works of Tishchenko).
It has three movements, forming a seemingly traditional sonata cycle pattern (Allegro – Andante – Vivace). The first movement (sonata form) opens in a vigorous theme stated first as one voice, and then with other voices added in imitative advance, subjected to intense polyphonic and motif development. After its statement in inversion, a new theme enters in a slower tempo. It is based on soft parallel thirds forming descending intonations. A sudden emotional “outburst” is followed by the development, in which the themes’ intonations undergo most diversified interval and rhythmic modifications. The reprise comes against the background of an ostinato of the basses sounding resonant and sinister. Nevertheless, the initial nature of the first theme is restored quite soon, and next, the reprise retains the general dynamics of the exposition.
The theme opening the second movement sounds in a low “cello” register, and is ten taken by other voices as imitation. But its tuneful intonations cover the impulsive initial pattern of the first movement’s main theme. It energy pushes through further, in a process of development replaced by the middle section. Against the background of measured sounds of fourths (the author’s note “quasi arpa” is characteristic) a new theme sounds to combine exquisite ornamental figurations and a clearly felt declamatory tone. It breaks off all of a sudden – and the first section’s reprise begins; in this section, the powerful fortissimo gradually subsides, giving ground to the previous placid development of the thematism.
The finale is based on several themes. The first one rushes by in a vehement toccata of 6/8, going down to the low register and forming a basis for the second theme, which combines toccata rhythms and metric-rhythmic alterations. The first theme reappears, and after it, along with biting fourths of a staccato, new material appears; suddenly intruding passages, register changes and leaps give it a play inflection. The fourth theme adds a contrast with its driving energy, and further on, the intonations of all the themes are re-stated in a whimsical kaleidoscope, subordinated to one rhythmic flow.
The First Piano Sonata was started in 1957, but the final edition of the opus was ready as late as in 1995. It is dedicated to Shostakovich, with whom the author studied as a postgraduate.
The sonata consists of four movements, where the correlation of tempos builds contrast pairs: Sostenuto – Presto, Sostenuto dolce – Allegro risoluto. Its features are polythematism, important role of contrasts, and close-ups in the development. For instance, the basis of the first movement are several themes opposed in terms of texture, registers, and rhythms. At one, the powerful octaves of the first theme encounter the high thirds of quavers, replaced by a dark and biting theme in the low register, and next by another one that is played broadly, two-octave doubled, against the background of extended dissonant concords. It is the change of different texture types that forms the basis of a development where all the themes undergo extremely inventive intonational transformations.
The characteristic “tag” of the second movement (three-section form) performing the functions of a scherzo in the cycle, is a pungent rhythm arousing associations with jazz improvisations. Acute dashed-line intonations (often broken off with rests) are replaced with the second theme against the background of incessantly running triplets, making whimsical polymetric combinations with them. After a small middle section, an abridged reprise appears, to be concluded with contrapositions of the dynamics and the end registers driven to extremes.
The entire third movement is sounded as muted piano; it is built upon two themes alternating to the pattern A B A B. The first one is heard against the background of lingering and colorful chords – the high bells of the fourths are gradually replaced by more and more fine-grained and florid figured motion dissolved in a high register. The melodic second theme is stated alternately in the upper voice and in the bass; it spontaneously brings to memory the tune of the variation in the Second String Quartet of Shostakovich. Its restrainedly lyrical attitude brings the listener’s conscience into the depth of intimate and personal meanings, providing a contrast to the preceding extravert movements. At the end, both themes merge, fading into silence.
The finale begins in a single voice theme; the strict syntactic structure and clean rhythms render it a stubborn and punchy attitude. The new voices added only enhance it in the process of development, when the theme is played in different registers and in different textural and metric-rhythmic images. The unexpected interval passages and “hopping” accompaniment render a somewhat grotesque tint to the scherzoso second theme. After the development, the first theme reprise appears dropping upon the listener in a powerful avalanche of fff, which concludes the entire opus.
As compared to the sonata, Tishchenko’s cycle of piano miniatures is absolutely opposing. Apart from the small scale, predominant here is a most laconic figure, economy of force, and outward emotional restraint. What is painted in large and powerful touches in the sonatas is presented here in the mode of maximum concentration of space and time. Three Riddles written in the same year as the Second Sonata remind of children’s pieces by Bartok or Prokofiev. Each part of this tiny cycle arranged to the rules of contrast (Andante – Allegro – Lento) contains a specific melodic pattern varied in the context of a two-voice linear texture, sometimes containing colorful chord “compactions.” For all the “toy” nature, all the pieces are subordinated to the laws of strictest compositional logic.
Three Polyphonudes written in the same year 1960 refer to many instructive polyphonic cycles and primarily to inventions of J. S. Bach. Each of the pieces contains certain contrapunctal ideas solved with inventiveness and true musicianship. In the two-voice first and second pieces it is canon and vertically movable counterpoint, while the third one is built upon a texture opposition of the extreme sections (based on the imitation technique and contraposition of rhythmically contrasting voices) and the middle one.
Egosuite (1957) is a kind of the composer’s self-portrait not without a slight tint of irony. Each piece in the cycle discloses some trait of character in vivid and clear-cut touches – be it self-criticism (No. 5 “Unrestraint” built upon impulsive and turbulent figurations), or sometimes humor (No. 2 “Think First, Then Speak” based on sudden dynamic and register contrasts). The imperative and laconically brutal first piece (“Character”) – is repeated at the end of the cycle (“Still I”) emphasizing unity of the opus itself and the author’s personality.