4 Rhapsodies

Kristina Marinova piano

Ernő Dohnányi composer
Astor Piazzolla composer
Franz Liszt composer
George Gershwin composer

Release Date: October 8, 2021
Catalog #: NV6371
Format: Digital & Physical
Romantic
Solo Instrumental
Piano

4 RHAPSODIES from critically-acclaimed pianist Kristina Marinova and Navona Records is a collection of vibrant, dynamic, and technically demanding works for solo piano. The album’s titular piece, Four Rhapsodies op. 11 by early 20th-Century composer Ernst von Dohnányi is rarely performed in concert given the level of musicianship it requires of pianists. Now, its combination of stark drama and dazzling virtuosic passages may be enjoyed by listeners everywhere. This impressive piece, along with works by the likes of Astor Piazzolla, Franz Liszt, and George Gershwin, makes for a varied collection of masterworks performed by the gifted hands of Kristina Marinova.

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Performance Video

Astor Piazzolla – Tango Rhapsody (Adiós Nonino) | Kristina Marinova, piano

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Four Rhapsodies Op.11: I. Allegro non troppo, ma agitato (G minor)
Ernő Dohnányi Kristina Marinova, piano 9:57
02 Four Rhapsodies Op.11: II.Adagio capriccioso (F♯ minor) Ernő Dohnányi Kristina Marinova, piano 6:42
03 Four Rhapsodies Op.11: III. Vivace (C major) Ernő Dohnányi Kristina Marinova, piano 5:33
04 Four Rhapsodies Op.11: VI. Andante lugubre (E♭ minor) Ernő Dohnányi Kristina Marinova, piano 7:23
05 Tango Rhapsody (Adiós Nonino) Astor Piazzolla Kristina Marinova, piano 9:14
06 Rhapsodie Espagnole (Spanish Rhapsody), S.254, R.90 Franz Liszt Kristina Marinova, piano 13:36
07 Rhapsody in Blue George Gershwin Kristina Marinova, piano 16:14

Recorded April 6,7,10,11 2021 at Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon NY
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Ryan Streber
Photography Joe Damone

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Jacob Smith

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Kristina Marinova

Kristina Marinova

Pianist

Kristina Marinova has been described as a performer of extreme energy and youthful vibrance. Her clear and precise tone enhances her stormy expressions and performances, full of grace, serenity, style, and beauty.

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Notes

“There is no feeling that does not find relief in music.” — George Eliot

As a highly sensitive person, for my entire life, I have been fascinated with human emotions, their triggers and consecutive responses. During my musical journey of the FOUR RHAPSODIES, I discovered an odyssey of sounds—joy, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, disgust, birth, love, life, compassion, madness, dance, devotion, spirituality, and death. The rhapsodies became a catalyst for me to express my creative moods, feelings, and musical ideas. Highly emotional, unanticipated in their development and direction, ecstatic, extravagant, full of amplitudes of feelings, the rhapsodies are free, episodic, single movement works where the emphasis is not on structure but expression, color, and improvisation. Opposites and dynamics abound—sentiment and drama, death and rebirth, grief and joy, love and hate, happiness and sadness, compulsion and tranquility, the beautiful and the grotesque. This collection of fine works presents the highest range of technical demands, as well as contrasting moods, colours, and tonal progressions. Inclined by extroverted romantic notions, these compositions express spontaneous inspiration with bursts of improvisation. Performing the rhapsodies requires pianistic stamina and power.

— Kristina Marinova

Ernst von Dohnányi (also known in Hungary as Ernö Dohnányi) won international acclaim as a virtuoso performer and eminent composer. Brahms and Liszt had a strong influence on his compositional technique and the “grand style” that was eminent in Dohnányi’s impressive pianism, technical brilliance, and expressive tone color. Brahms himself praised Dohnányi’s first published composition—his Quintet no.1 in C minor (1895). Dohnányi was a well respected conductor and legendary piano pedagogue. Some of his pupils include Georges Cziffra, Georg Solti, Boris Goldowsky, Edward Kilenyi, Mischa Levitzki, Eugene Ormandy, Fritz Reiner, and Annie Fisher. He taught for over 10 years at the Musikhochschule in Berlin starting in 1905, but because of the First World War he returned to Hungary in 1915 where he held directorial positions at the Liszt Academy. After a long and distinguished career he moved to Argentina before finally settling in Florida at the State University in Tallahassee in 1949 where he performed, composed, and conducted until his death in 1960.

Conceived as a collection of four, written in 1902-03, the work was dedicated to his teacher, Stefan Thomán. Rich in beautiful colours, nuances, and brilliance, the rhapsodies are exceedingly demanding both technically and emotionally, requiring pianists to demonstrate drastic, rapid, and continuous metamorphoses in emotions while seamlessly recasting moods. Dohnányi’s rhapsodies have rarely been performed in concerts. He experimented briefly with folk music but never completely indulged in it. The composer preferred to concentrate his efforts in creating original themes and centralised his ideas on preserving the romantic and classical forms of the 18th century, while at the same time introducing a zest of improvisation to his writings. The new experimental style and rhapsodic freedom made him a progressive of his time. Some scholars identify his Four Rhapsodies as a sonata in four movements: a sonata-allegro, a slow adagio, a scherzo, and a theme and variations (based on Dies Irae chant). Thematic connection is present throughout the entire work. In the final coda of the fourth rhapsody the listener hears the first rhapsody echoing.

— Kristina Marinova

Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla transformed the traditional tango into a new style called “Tango Nuevo” incorporating jazz and classical elements, extended harmonies, and dissonances utilizing a plethora of nontraditional forms. He developed a form ABABC, frequently found in his works. In the fast A sections he used tango rhythms, in the slow sections he used lyrical solos.

“Piazzolla became the visionary who revolutionized the tango — that doleful mélange of broken hearts, dirty dancing and soul-crushing melancholy developed in the South American immigrant melting pot of Argentina and Uruguay.” — Los Angeles Times

The composer loved Bach and gained his own music reading skills from Béla Wilda, who was a student of Sergei Rachmaninoff. At the age of 20 he studied with Alberto Ginastera and later with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, who encouraged him to play the bandoneon. Piazzolla dedicated his work “Adiós Nonino’’ to his late father, Vicente “Nonino” Piazzolla. During the time of grief, away from Argentina and in a state of deep depression, the work became the catalyst for his sadness, nostalgia, and melancholy.

– Kristina Marinova

“..the most extraordinary thing about Liszt is his wonderful variety of expression and play of feature. One moment his face will look dreamy, shadowy, tragic. The next he will be insinuating, amiable, ironical, sardonic; but always the same captivating grace of manner. He is a perfect study.”

— Amy Fay

Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody requires a mastery of technical acumen and rapport with the piano. It is a brilliant interplay between drama, dance, and tender lyrical reflection. The piece was inspired by a trip to Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar in 1844-1845 and written during an arduous time for the composer. During his travels “he met local musicians and absorbed many Spanish musical folk idioms” (Watson). The piece rejoiced and received popularity in the hands of the brilliant pianist Hans von Bülow, elevating him as the most revered interpreter of the work.

The rhapsody opens with a brilliant cadenza, highlighted by stark drama, with deep tremolo rumblings in the bass and arpeggios of angelic wings in the right hand, soaring up to the heavenly atmosphere of ringing harps and sprinkles of fairy dust. The audience returns to earth and ordinary life right after the entrance of the sombre yet simple “Folies d’Espagne” tune, humbly sculpted by the left hand. This traditional theme dazzled other composers such as Corelli, Vivaldi, C.P.E. Bach, and Rachmaninoff. After entering from the far distance and creating an atmosphere of an early sunrise on the countryside, the tune gradually gathers inertia, developing and increasing its force in a myriad of exclamations and variations of the original material, erupting all over the entire range of the keyboard as a volcano of technical demands. Losing itself in a bravura of technical challenges, the player’s attention is suddenly interrupted by the charming yet innocent “Jota aragonesa” theme, creating a childlike music box effect. Liszt gradually intensifies the texture by increasing the sound layers, sonorities, and tempo, until he reaches the culmination embraced by virtuosity and intense dynamics.

— Kristina Marinova

George Gershwin originally titled the piece American Rhapsody changing it later to Rhapsody in Blue, defining the bold and daring experimental features of his music. Gershwin was rushed to complete the work for a performance that Paul Whiteman was programming, which aimed to establish the new American jazz style as part of the standard repertoire. In January 1924, Gershwin’s assignment was to write a jazz concerto. It was originally written for piano and jazz band, with parts scored by Groféth. Gershwin performed at the premiere from memory, never anticipating Rhapsody in Blue becoming a masterpiece. The composition is famous for its synthesis of jazz and classical ideas but at the time it was just “An Experiment in Modern Music”.

“It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang that is often so stimulating to a composer (I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise) that I suddenly heard—and even saw on paper—the complete construction of the Rhapsody from beginning to end. …I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America—of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had the definite plot of the piece.” — George Gershwin

— Kristina Marinova