Jazeps Vitols (1863-1948): Works for Solo Piano / Reinis Zarins Jun23

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Chaps Hill Records Record Label - Chaps Hill Records: "An independent label dedicated to recordings made at The Music Room at Champs Hill, a private 160-seat concert hall in the West Sussex countryside."
Release date: 2013-05-28

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Jazeps Vitols: Works for Solo Piano / Reinis Zarins

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This new Champs Hill Records release of Jāzeps Vītols' (1863-1948) piano music will be a welcome discovery for anyone who enjoys exploring the byways of the romantic piano literature. Pianist Reinis Zarins performs a hand-picked selection of pieces made up of miniatures and folksongs as well as the Sonatine Op. 63 in what shapes up to be an ingratiating, fresh-sounding and beautifully performed program.

Jāzeps Vītols was a Latvian composer who, having been born well before the formation of the Latvian Republic in 1918, formed close ties to the music and musicians of Russia. He was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov and taught at the conservatoire in St. Petersburg for over thirty years, counting among his students Myaskovsky and Prokofiev. He was also a close friend of fellow professors Glazunov and Lyadov. All this Russian influence is not lost on Vītols' music, but although romantic Russian traditions run strong, it is the vigorous spirit of Latvian folk music that defines his unique voice.

Assessed alongside other composers of his day, Vītols' style can be described as quite traditional and conservative - not extreme in any way. His music is meticulously constructed in terms of form and harmonically, it is completely tonal and very colorful.

With the kind permission of Champs Hill Records, I've included two generous samples with this review for you to hear. The first is the third and final Allegro giocoso movement of the Sonatine, Op. 63, and the second, the very impressionistic sounding miniature By the Sea, Op. 43 No. 1. Listen and you'll hear why Jāzeps Vītols is considered the most important Latvian composer from the first half of the 20th century.