CHOPIN 24 Preludes Op.28; recorded Moscow c.1955
LISZT 6 Grandes Études de Paganini, S141; recorded Moscow 1951 & 1955
SCRIABIN Piano Sonata No.5, Op.53; recorded Moscow c.1956
This title continues the Goldenweiser School, the last of the three great teaching traditions to be covered in this comprehensive survey of the many great pianists who worked in Russia in the Soviet era. The bulk of the issues in THE RUSSIAN PIANO TRADITION will be divided into 'schools' which represent the three main teachers of this period - Neuhaus, Goldenweiser and Igumnov, - and their pupils.
One of the youngest pianists to be featured in this series, Victor Merzhanov is more a grand-pupil of Goldenweiser than a pupil, as his major professor was Samuil Feinberg. It seems certain though, that while studying with one of Goldenweiser's most illustrious pupils he would also have had contact with the great man. Merzhanov graduated from the Moscow conservatory in 1942 and, after war service, shared first prize in the 1945 All-Union piano competition with Sviatoslav Richter. He began teaching at the Moscow Conservatoire in 1947 and, at the age of 90, continues to teach and serve on competition juries today. Merzhanov quickly became renowned as a Rachmaninov interpreter and his recording of the Third Concerto is one of the greatest, he also made the first recording of Prokofiev's Sixth Sonata. He was most prolific in the recording studio in the 1950's and his performances are characterised by peerless technique (witness the Liszt 'Paganini' Studies included here) and a generous, but never self-serving, emotional involvement with the music. Once again the quality of the playing revealed here shows that our view of who are the 'greats' of Soviet pianism has been very much dictated by those performers who had careers in the west. As this series of CDs has shown, Gilels and Richter were not isolated peaks; the likes of Oborin, Zak, and here, Merzhanov, were certainly their musical equals.