Music from the Great Hall
Recorded on September 21, 2020
Alexander Malikov, piano
Piano Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI: 50 (ca 1794–95) Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
III Allegro molto
Pictures at an Exhibition (June 1874) Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881)
1 The Gnome
2 The Old Castle
3 Tuileries (Children’s Quarrel after Games)
5 Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
6 “Samuel” Goldenberg and “Schmuÿle”
7 Limoges. The Market (Great News)
8 Catacombs – With the Dead in a Dead Language
9 The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)
10 The Bogatyr Gates (In the capital in Kiev)
Alexander Malikov performs extensively in Canada and the United States. He has been featured as Artist-in-residence on Performance Today (Minnesota Public Radio) and has worked such with conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Boris Brott, Gaddiel Dombrowner, and Michelle Merrill. He has presented solo recitals at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheater in Toronto and at the Banff International String Quartet Festival. He appeared at Heidelberg University in Ohio as the “Montague Artist” and was also featured in the “Rising Star” series at the Texas State International Piano Festival.
He is also an advocate of new music and recently premiered a piano concerto by composer Minho Yoon. A composer himself, Alexander gave the world premier of his own piano concerto in 2016.
He has been a prize winner at the Knigge, Shean, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Petroff, and Carl E. Baldassare competitions, and was a gold medalist at the 2019 Manhattan International Competition. Most recently, he received second prize at the 2020 Walled City Music International Online Piano Competition.
A graduate of Oberlin College with Angela Cheng and the Juilliard School with Julian Martin, Alexander went on to receive an Artist Diploma under Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Doctorate of Musical Arts with Anton Nel at the University of Texas. He is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma with James Anagnoson and John Perry at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809) wrote over 50 keyboard sonatas throughout his life. Although a very competent keyboard player, Haydn was no virtuoso, and wrote works which make only moderate demands on the performer. However, this Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI 50 (also known as Sonata Number 60 in the H. C. Robbins Landon edition) and its companion sonatas Hob. XVI 51 (D major) and Hob. XVI 52 (E-flat major) were written for the young German-English keyboard virtuoso Therese Jansen (1770 – 1843) whose acquaintance Haydn had made during his second visit to England in 1794-5. Haydn was apparently very much taken by the young artist, and took special pains to produce more substantial works which she could take into her repertoire and play exclusively for a time (Haydn did not publish this C major sonata until circa 1800). By all accounts, Haydn and Therese Jansen became good musical friends during Haydn’s stay in London, and Haydn was a witness at Therese’s wedding in May of 1795, when she married Gaetano Bartolozzi.
The C major sonata is one of only four keyboard sonatas from Haydn’s most mature compositional style. The first movement is essentially monothematic, with all elements derived from the opening expositional material. The second movement, an elaborate Adagio in F major, is perhaps the emotional centre of the sonata, while the Finale, an Allegro Molto in 3/4 time is also monothematic. Haydn structures beautiful and well-organized works out of just a handful of thematic elements, and this sonata shows his absolute mastery of the process.
Modest Mussorgsky (1839 – 1881) was one of a number of young Russian composers who were determined to found a truly ‘Russian’ school of composition, and to liberate themselves from Western European musical forms and styles. Although Mussorgsky was steered into a military career by his family, his first passion was always music, and after meeting other young Russian composers, particularly Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Cesar Cui, and Mily Balakirev, Mussorgsky renounced his military commission to began his musical career. Although by all accounts Mussorgsky was a brilliant pianist, his initial interest in composition was opera, and writing for the voice in general. His most famous work for piano, Pictures at an Exhibition, took form only after the sudden death of a noted Russian artist and architect, Viktor Hartmann. Mussorgsky and Hartmann had first met at a soirée given by the noted cultural writer and critic Vladimir Stasov in 1868 and became good friends. After Hartmann’s sudden death in 1873, Stasov helped to organize a retrospective of Hartmann’s work, presented in St. Petersburg in early 1874. It was at that exhibition that Mussorgsky became consumed with a desire to compose a suite inspired by the artistic works of his late friend. Pictures at an Exhibition was written in June of 1874. Initially, Mussorgsky’s work rather baffled his musical friends, and it was not published until 1886, five years after Mussorgsky’s death.
Pictures at an Exhibition is a suite of ten pieces inspired by the visual art of Viktor Hartman and interspersed with a recurring ‘Promenade’, meant to be a depiction of the viewer walking amongst the works of art on display. The musical invention is brilliant. The demands on the pianist are considerable, and the overall effect of the work is memorable. Pictures at an Exhibition is now a staple in the piano repertoire, and has inspired several orchestral transcriptions, most notably by Maurice Ravel in 1922.
With thanks to:
Barbara Wright George