By Gabriel Prynn, cellist
Part 2/3: The Christmas Tree by Rebikov
Following his training at the Moscow Conservatory (he studied music theory with Nikolai Klenovsky, a student of Tchaikovsky) he traveled to Vienna and Berlin, bringing him into contact with music outside of Moscow for the first time. Shortly afterwards he experienced a crisis of confidence in his own work: he felt that his music leaned far too heavily on salon tastes and the short pieces of Grieg and Tchaikovsky.
He went on to write a total of eleven stage works, liturgical music, numerous piano pieces (many very experimental and far reaching), and mélomimiques for voice and piano.
His most adventurous and celebrated pieces are his stage works calls « musico-psychological dramas », such as The Woman with the dagger (1911), Narcissus (1913) and The Gentry’s Nest, Opus 55. His best-known work is a fairy play, after Dostoyevsky, Andersen and Hauptmann, called Yolka (The Christmas Tree) which was produced in Moscow in 1903.
Ironically, it is his early character pieces, which draw heavily on Romantic influences, which remain his most popular works today, and not the more experimental, impressionist compositions of his later years.
The endearing Waltz from Rebikov’s The Christmas Tree can be seen to evoke Russian childhood memories, and has been both recorded and performed in a transcription for piano trio before.
We have lovingly arranged the entire suite for this concert however, which will be a rare treat for lovers of Russian music!
Also to be found in the other movements of the suite are: The procession of gnomes, The dance of the Chinese puppets, A stairway to the sky, The clowns’ dance, and finally A dark night.