The Russian Nobility Association was happy to participate on Sunday, November 10 in presenting to its friends a concert of chamber music by Leonid Desyatnikov, arguably the most important contemporary Russian composer working today, just starting to be widely recognized in the west.  The program that was to be performed in the intimate space of the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall by an ensemble of distinguished Russian musicians led by pianist Alexei Goribol was to include preludes from the piano cycle “Songs of Bukovina” loosely based on Ukrainian folk songs, that was commissioned for Alexei Ratmansky’s new ballet for American Ballet Theater, and selections from his landmark “Love and Life of the Poet”, a song cycle based on avant-garde poems by Daniil Kharms and Nikolai Oleinikov. Because of visa issues with a couple of performers, the Kharms piece could not be performed, so the composer joined in the presentation of an expanded program of his chamber music.    

The Desyatnikov concert was presented by our friends the MART Foundation – the Modern Art and Life Foundation – a private non-governmental foundation dedicated to bringing contemporary Russian Culture to the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States.

The RNA hosted a small pre-concert cocktail for our members and friends in the Jacobs Room adjacent to the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, where the composer joined us for a few minutes.

Desyatnikov’s music is featured in some of Alexei Ratmansky’s ballets for the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater.  He also composed the opera “The Children of Rosenthal” to the libretto by Vladimir Sorokin, arranged music by Astor Piazzolla, and created the scores for movies such as Sunset, Moscow Nights, All That Is Tender, Moscow and His Wife’s Diary.

Desyatnikov lives and works in St. Petersburg. Perhaps appropriately to that setting, his musical ideas flow out of the Russian classical tradition. The melodic developments of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Stravinsky can be heard in his work more than post-war musical trends.  His style is delicate, subtle and infused with wit and irony, and is thoroughly contemporary.

The program as originally scheduled:

Act I

6 preludes from the piano cycle Bukovina songs

Variations on obtaining of a dwelling for cello and piano

Wie der Alte Leiermann for violin and piano

8 preludes from the piano cycle Bukovina songs

Act II

Tracing Astor for violin, viola, cello and piano

Dichterliebe und Leben vocal cycle to the verses by Nikolay Oleynikov and Daniil Kharms for tenor and piano:

In approval of her Haircut
The Old Woman
The Fly
The Constancy of Gaiety and Filth
The Beetle (rhapsody)

Performed by:

Alexey Goribol (piano)
Taras Prysiazhniuk (tenor)
Maria Ioudenitch (violin)
Timotheos Petrin (cello)
Gonzalo Rodriguez (viola)