Well-known for her chamber collaborations and piano duo with Charles Owen – with whom she is artistic director of the London Piano Festival – this is Katya Apekisheva’s first solo disc on Champs Hill Records, on which she brings her artistry to Impromptus by Scriabin, Faure and Chopin.
She says: “In the last few years I have been drawn to Fauré’s music with its rich textures and sensuous, dark, hypnotic harmonies. I discovered his Impromptus which are rarely performed, perhaps partly because of their very virtuoso writing. That led me to an exploration of the genre of impromptus more generally: I was excited by the improvisational quality and variety of mood – from playful miniatures to dark, melancholic, profound pieces of music.”
The Scriabin Impromptus are similarly underrepresented in the discography and are programmed here alongside jewels in the piano repertoire, the Chopin Impromptus.
Katya says: “These very different composers’ styles complement each other yet there is a common romantic thread running through; and I thought that, together, they would make a very beautiful programme centred around the Impromptu form.”
Since becoming a prize-winner in the Leeds International and Scottish Piano competitions and collating awards such as the London Philharmonic ‘Soloist of the Year’ and the Terence Judd Award she has been marked out as a pianist of exceptional gifts, performing with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, The Philharmonia, the Hallé Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, working with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, David Shallon, Jan Latham-Koenig and Alexander Lazarev.
As a recording artist, Katya has received widespread critical acclaim for her interpretations. Her recording of Grieg solo piano works in 2008 (Quartz) was chosen by Classic FM as CD of the week and selected by Gramophone magazine as Editor’s Choice, further receiving a ‘Rising Star Award’ in International Piano Magazine and becoming Critics’ choice 2008 in Gramophone magazine. In 2012 Katya released a CD of works by Mussorgsky and Shostakovich (Onyx) and has also collaborated on several recordings with violinist Jack Liebeck including a Classical Brit winning CD of works by Dvořák and more recently a disc of Kreisler arrangements for Hyperion.
Frédéric Chopin is one of the greatest composers of the Romantic piano tradition. He was a master in making the small form great. His ballades, mazurkas, polonaises, preludes, etudes and nocturnes all belong to the most popular standard works for piano ever written.
As a child prodigy, Chopin grew up in a middle class family, who lived among the literati of Warsaw. When in 1830 the November Uprising broke out in Poland, the twenty year old Chopin stayed in Vienna. He became an exile and never returned to his mother country. He eventually settled in Paris.
He avoided public concerts, but he did like performing in small settings, such as salons and at home for his friends. This way, Chopin built a reputation as an exceptional pianist, teacher and composer.
Chopin brought a unique synthesis between the Viennese bravado and the French/English lyric style. Even though his pieces often are technically very demanding, the focus was always on creating a lyric expression and poetic atmosphere. He invented the instrumental ballade, and brought salongenres to a higher level with his many innovations and refinements.