STRAVINSKY: PETRUSHKA; THE RITE OF SPRINGFor Piano Four Hands
LOMAZOV-RACKERS PIANO DUO
Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers, pianos
PROGRAM NOTESIgor Stravinsky changed the course of twentieth-century music dramatically with his three early ballets, culminating in the controversial premiere of The Rite of Spring in Paris. The relentless dissonances, interlocking and overlaying rhythmic patterns and innovative orchestral effects of these works proved deeply influential to generations of musicians.
Among the many groundbreaking qualities were the use of jarring bi-tonality, such as the E-flat dominant seventh chord in the treble over an E major chord in the bass in the “Augurs of Spring” from The Rite of Spring and the C major over F-sharp major harmony in Petrushka; the layering of rhythmic figuration in “Dance of the Earth” from The Rite of Spring (eighth-note, triplet and sixteenth-note rhythms simultaneously) as well as extensive use of multi-meter in combination with folk melodies in all three works. The plots, costumes and physicality of the choreography of these works were also pioneering for generations of dancers and choreographers (see synopsis of The Rite of Spring and Three Movements from Petrushka on the following pages).
These works are saturated with references to Russian and archaic Lithuanian idioms and folk tunes. The use of folk material is especially prevalent in Petrushka. Ranging from perusing folk dance patterns and harmonic language to direct quotations from popular Russian folk songs, Stravinsky vividly paints the pre-revolutionary “лубочная” Russia of spirited folk celebrations of holidays through public gatherings and feasts (Russian Dance, Shrovetide Fair). In examining the ethnology of folk songs used in “Масленица” (“Shrovetide Fair, towards evening”), the last movement of the ballet, we discovered that while the popular folk tunes introduced in the “Dance of the Wet Nurses” movement are consistently and correctly identified as “Вдоль по Питерской” (Down Peterskaya Road) and “Ах вы сени, мои сени” (Oh, My Porch, My New Porch), opinions differ widely as to the origin of the tune quoted in “Dance of the Coachmen and Grooms.” Some Russian sources identify it as “Не лед трещит, не комар пищит” (Not the Ice Cracking, nor the Mosquito Whining), which in fact are merely the words to the first song “Вдоль по Питерской” (Down Peterskaya Road), or as “По улице-мостовой” (Along the Street-Road), a song which doesn’t relate to Stravinsky’s tune. Further research brought two songs to our attention, “Уморилась” (Tired am I) and “Из-под дуба, из-под вяза.” (Came Out of Oak, Came Out of Elm). While neither song is a direct quotation, both have rhythmic and harmonic similarities to the tune used by Stravinsky.
Stravinsky created solo or duo piano versions of each of his three early ballets, The Firebird, The Rite of Spring and Petrushka before he orchestrated the works. They were the first versions that the dancers, choreographers and conductors of the ballets would have heard and it was these piano versions that were often used in rehearsals with the dancers. Stravinsky himself performed much of the duo piano version of The Rite of Spring with Claude Debussy and also performed this version for Maurice Ravel and Sergei Diaghilev prior to finishing the orchestration of the work.
While not originally intended as concert pieces, the duo piano versions of The Rite of Spring and Petrushka have become part of the concert repertoire ever since Michael Tilson Thomas and Ralph Grierson gave one of the first concert performances of The Rite of Spring in 1967, making an acclaimed recording some years later (Angel LP: S-36024). Tilson Thomas also performed the work with Leonard Bernstein at Alice Tully Hall in New York in 1981, among other performances. These works are now regarded among the most demanding in the duo piano repertoire due to the physical requirements, challenges for ensemble and coordination, as well as the rigorousness of rhythm between the players that is necessary for the music to achieve a striking effect. Stravinsky indicated that The Rite and Petrushka can be performed for one piano, four hands or two pianos. What emerge from these versions are a transparency of texture and clarity and a relentlessness of percussive effects well-suited to the piano.
In performing these works many times, we prefer The Rite of Spring and Petrushka on one piano, four hands, rather than on two pianos. The physicality and sharing of space on one piano helps bring out the dance qualities and athleticism of this music. In addition, the transparency that can be achieved in the duo piano version is most effective, in our opinion, on one piano.
On this recording, we offer the complete Rite of Spring and Three Movements from Petrushka, the same three movements that Stravinsky himself arranged to create the solo piano version premiered by Arthur Rubinstein. This recording is one of only a few of Three Movements from Petrushka in the duo piano format (apart from duo piano recordings of the complete ballet). These works have become staples in the duo piano repertoire and are a testament to Stravinsky’s genius and imagination at writing for the piano. In whatever form, Stravinsky’s music remains as fresh and modern as ever, with a living, breathing, restless quality that is equally powerful one hundred years after these works were written. [Joseph Rackers and Marina Lomazov, June 2017]
The Lomazov-Rackers Piano Duo garnered wide attention as the Second Prize Winners of the Sixth Biennial Ellis Duo Piano Competition, the only national competition for piano duo in the United States at that time. Since then, they have performed as recitalists and in concert with orchestras throughout the United States, Europe and Asia including performances at the Kiev International Music Festival, Gina Bachauer International Piano Festival, Indiana University Piano Festival, American Liszt Society Festival, Perugia International Music Festival, Seoul International Piano Festival, Varna International Piano Festival, Burgos International Music Festival and Infiorata di Genzano, in addition to appearances in every region of the United States. Lomazov and Rackers are Steinway Artists.
As a solo pianist, Marina Lomazov has earned prizes in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, William Kapell International Piano Competition and Hilton Head International Piano Competition and was the first pianist to be awarded the Artist Diploma at the Eastman School of Music in nearly two decades. Joseph Rackers has performed throughout the United States, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ukraine at venues including the Shanghai and Sichuan Conservatories of Music, Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, Banff Center for the Arts and Yantai International Music Festival, among others. He is the recipient of the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music.
Lomazov and Rackers each earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music. They both serve on the artist piano faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Music where Lomazov is the Ira McKissick Koger Professor of Fine Arts and Rackers is Chair of the Piano Department. Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers founded and direct the Southeastern Piano Festival and also serve on the faculty of the Perugia International Music Festival in Italy, Burgos International Music Festival in Spain and Texas State International Piano Festival in the United States.
Piano: Steinway “D”
Technician: Randy Rentz
JOSEPH RACKERS SOLO DEBUT
Johann Sebastian Bach, Bela Bartók,
Maurice Ravel & Robert Schumann
PROGRAMIGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
THREE MOVEMENTS FROM PETRUSHKA for piano four hands
The Shrovetide Fair
THE RITE OF SPRING for piano four hands
Part 1: Adoration of the Earth
Augurs of Spring
Ritual of Abduction
Ritual of the Rival Tribes
Procession of the Sage
Dance of the Earth
Part 2: The Sacrifice
Mystic Circles of the Young Girls
Glorification of the Chosen One
Evocation of the Ancestors
Ritual Action of the Ancestors