Ekaterina Litvintseva, the Arctic Circle pianist

Albums, Videos & Books, English

Sergueï Rachmaninov (1873-1943) : Morceaux de fantaisie op.3, Moments musicaux op.16, Suite en ré mineur pour orchestre (transcription pour piano 1891), Morceaux de salon op.10 (Valse). Ekaterina Litvintseva, piano. 1 CD Profil PH14042. Enregistré en janvier 2014. Durée: 70:15


Ekaterina_Litvintseva emphasizes her youth and sensitivity in a convincing all-Rachmaninoff program.

Everyone already knows about Hélène Grimaud and her wolves; perhaps now when we think of , we will recall her childhood in Anadyr on the Bering Sea, the easternmost city of Russia, just south of the Arctic Circle, where snow covers the ground 270 days a year and 130 days a year see blizzard conditions.

The booklet of Litvintseva’s new CD, a veritable trove of biographical information, features beautiful tundra landscapes and sepia-tinted photographs of a little girl alone in the snowy wilderness, but says not a word about the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. During Litvintseva’s formative years, Anadyr lost a third of its population, which had never amounted to more than twenty thousand inhabitants, and musical life across the entire country suffered.

For her debut CD, the pianist has chosen a program after her own image as a young Russian musician, with an emphasis on emotional expression. Rachmaninoff composed all the pieces on the album while in his twenties, and there are undeniable affinities  between the composer and the pianist. The album title, The depth of the unspoken, might seem bombastic, but the pianist explains it as a reference to those secrets we keep for fear of revealing our feelings, of being left defenseless—secrets that Rachmaninoff’s music seeks to unveil. The Morceaux de fantaisie and the Six moments musicaux are good illustrations of Litvintseva’s sensitive and emotional approach, as is, if to a lesser extent, the less homogenous Suite in D Minor. Composed for orchestra in 1891, the suite’s transcription for piano was found only in 2000 in the Glinka Museum archives in Moscow.

The playing is flawless; by turns deeply honest, energetic, and lightly allusive, lyrical without excess pathos, delicate without ever becoming insipid or sentimental. This album offers a fine introduction to this artist come in from the cold.

Translated by Romain Paulino


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