POEMS & FAIRY TALESPiano Music by Medtner & Scriabin
Nikolai Medtner, Alexander Scriabin
IRINA FEOKTISTOVA, piano
"Feoktistova is an enchantress of the first rank."
Arsenio Orteza, World Magazine - February 2010
"Medtner’s intricacies have trapped any number of pianists...But Irina Feoktistova clearly has the Ariadne’s thread to navigate the music’s mazes... this Petersburg-trained pianist turns out ripe, romantic performances notable for their heightened emotion, their rich but sensuously varied tonal palette, and—most of all—their superb rubato, which matches the music’s rhythmic flow to its most unpredictable harmonic currents with unerring discernment... Her strong-willed Scriabin is similarly impressive... [with] her weighty account of Op.2/1 (its contestatory lines highlighted to striking effect), her impassioned churning in op. 8/12, and her spellbinding Vers la flamme, this disc makes a significant contribution to the Scriabin catalog, too... A follow-up would be welcome."
Peter J. Rabinowitz, Fanfare - November / December 2009
"what shines through...is Irina Feoktistova’s playing, which is masterful and at times revelatory. None of these composers’ piano works are easy, but must be performed with a sense of ease and inevitability, either to support Medtner’s intricate classical forms or lend logic to Scriabin’s seemingly improvisatory declamations. Feoktistova is completely at home in this music, and her knowledge of it and love for it are evident at every moment... I applaud Feoktistova for her virtuosity and vision".
Patrick Valentino, Classical Voice of New England - October 2009
"[Feoktistova] has all the technical mastery and coloristic touches to bring [the music] off in fine fashion. She sorts out all of the complex rhythms each of these composers are noted for using without ever getting bogged down. Her sense of line and forward momentum are essential for this repertoire... her musicality and variety of touches are just about perfect [in the Scriabin]."
American Record Guide - September / October 2009
"[Feoktistova] plays with a gutsy tone and expressive directness... ."
BBC Music Magazine - October 2009
"[Feoktistova] is admirable interpreter... Her rendering of A Fairy Tale is sensitive... [She] underlines Scriabin's elliptical harmonies in these concise miniatures, bringing out the mystery and lurking shadows, as well as the more explosive qualities... a worthy Scriabin interpreter..."
Lawrence A. Johnson, Gramophone - September 2009
"[This] collection opens with Irina’s performance of Medtner’s “Fairy Tale In B-Flat Minor”, followed by his “Sonata-Reminiscenza, Op. 38, No. 1”. Both reveal a complexity of composition that is expertly performed by Ms. Feoktistova. Certainly, [her] twelve minute performance of his melodic and poetic “Sonata-Reminiscenza” contains a deeply nostalgic, and atmospheric beauty... Feoktistova more than rises to the many technical challenges laid down by Scriabin on this excellent album."
Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics - June 2009
"In Poems & Fairy Tales, Irina Feoktistova explores the tone color and the harmonic complexities in two of Russia's most intriguing composers, Nikolai Medtner and Alexander Scriabin. For this task, the St. Petersburg Conservatory graduates who now resides in the United States has the ideal tools, including temperament, love of the beautiful tonal qualities in the music, and an unerring sense for the harmonic center of a given piece. The last-named is vital when you're talking about a composer like Scriabin whose harmonics are usual to begin with, even if they weren't complicated by what the composer himself termed his 'mystery chord.' Feoktistova is adept at bringing out the salient qualities in the two Medtner pieces heard here, namely clarity of tone, formal outline and rhythm. That's important because Medtner's melodies are not in themselves terribly memorable (a cardinal sin for a Russian), which makes critical a keen appreciation of other musical values. Feoktistova shows a fine understanding of the wistful, melancholy mood of the composer's Sonata-Riminiscenza, Op, 38, No.1 from the first cycle of Forgotten Melodies, bringing out the nostalgia inherent in the music, as well as a grasp of its unusual structure in which all of the components of sonata form are present in a single movement. In her hands, the Skazka (Fairy Tale) in B-flat Major is a polished gem. When I said, “a composer like Scriabin” earlier, I was being facetious: there has never been any other composer like Alexander Scriabin, a mystic who developed his own musical language to express his visions. In the Etude in D-sharp Minor, Op. 8, No. 12, for instance, the composer begins slowly and mysteriously, then builds to a powerful climax at the end as a heightened tempo coincides with increasing density of tone-clusters. Feoktistova manages beautifully the ebb and flow of volume over a widely spaced arpeggiated bass that make this short piece so memorable. The Scriabin selections also include his deeply reflective Etude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 2, No. 1, his eight Preludes, Op. 11; the exuberant “Vers la Flamme” which draws in the listener like a moth to the flame referenced in the title, and the two Poems, Op. 32, the first more yearning in character and the latter more overtly dramatic. The harmonic language in both is noticeably fluid, calling forth, and receiving, the utmost alertness and delicacy from the artist.
Atlanta Audio Society - March 2009
PROGRAM NOTESIRINA FEOKTISTOVA, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, is a classically trained pianist that has performed in the major concert halls of Russia, Europe and the United States as a soloist, duo pianist and accompanist. In 1995, as a part of a piano duo, she participated in the Park Lane Group auditions and was chosen from 260 participants to perform at the Purcell Room of London’s Royal Festival Hall. The piano duo Polianovskaja-Feoktistova won third prize at the First International Competition of Contemporary Music Interpretation in Weimar, Germany (1996). In 1997, she gave a series of concerts as soloist with the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, conducted by Robert Groslot. In 1997, she participated in the Ninth International New Music Festival titled “SoundWays” as a piano duo and recorded her first disc.
Feoktistova emigrated to the United States in 1998, and since then has performed extensively in the Chicago area. She also worked as a free-lance musician at Roosevelt, Loyola, Northwestern and DePaul Universities, and has been involved in numerous musical theatre productions as accompanist and music director. Ms. Feoktistova has also been active in various projects performing Russian and American contemporary music. Since 2004, Ms. Feoktistova accompanied one of the world’s foremost performers of Baroque trumpet, Crispian Steele-Perkins on his yearly United States tour. In 2004 she won the Kawai CD Recording Competition in piano solo category. Ms. Feoktistova is affiliated with the CUBE, MAVerick and Vox3 ensembles in Chicago, and with the Union of Composers in St. Petersburg, where in May 2005 she performed a program of American contemporary music at the 41st International Festival “St. Petersburg Musical Spring” and recorded her CD titled ”Musical Bridge, Chicago – St. Petersburg”. In 2005 and 2007, she participated in John Cage’s “Musicircus” events organized by Chicago Composers Forum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. For the 2007 “Musicircus”, Ms. Feoktistova initiated the Scriabin “color-music” program in which her performances were accompanied by digitally created color animation projections.
In 2005 and 2006, Ms. Feoktistova worked as a coach and interpreter for Vladimir Galouzine, theprincipal Russian tenor, performing in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Turandot at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She also worked as a back stage pianist for Der Rosenkavalier (2006) and played organ for the Orchestra in Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten (2007) with Sir Andrew Davis conducting. Irina has been the principal keyboardist with the Millennium Chamber Players, a Chicago-based ensemble, since its founding in 2006. Her recordings include both classical and contemporary music, including such 20th century repertoire as Barber’s Hermit Songs with Russian singer Elena Antonenko (2003); Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire; works by Webern; and PeterM. Davies’s Eight Songs for aMad King with theMillenniumChamber Players. In 2007, Feoktistova was featured in the The Fazioli Salon Series, which was broadcasted live on WFMT radio. In June 2008, she made her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist and an accompanist with Russian singer Vladimir Galuzine for the Russia Day concert.
PROGRAMNikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951)
FAIRY TALE IN B-FLAT MINOR, OP.20, NO.1
SONATA-REMINISCENZA, OP.38, NO.1 (from Forgotten Melodies, First Cycle)
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
ETUDE IN C-SHARP MINOR, OP.2, NO.1
EIGHT PRELUDES, OP.11
Prelude in E major, No.9
Prelude in E minor, No.4
Prelude in B minor, No.6
Prelude in A-flat major, No.17
Prelude in C-sharp minor, No.10
Prelude in G minor, No.22
Prelude in E-flat minor, No.14
Prelude in D-flat major, No.15
ETUDE IN D-SHARP MINOR, OP.8, NO.12
PRELUDE IN A MAJOR, OP.11, NO.2
TWO POEMS, OP.32
F-sharp major, No.1
D major, No.2
ALBUM LEAF IN E-FLAT, OP.45, NO.1
POEM “VERS LA FLAMME”, OP.72