Discovery Series: Alexander Gretchaninov - Entrada

October 6, 2021

Discovery Series: Alexander Gretchaninov

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Alexander Gretchaninov witnessed remarkable changes during his long life. He initially decided to remain in Russia after the revolution but then fled first to Paris in 1925 and, later, in 1939, to the United States, where he became an American citizen.

Gretchaninov maintained his lyrical, romantic voice throughout his career. This is exemplified by the Prelude in B-Flat Minor, Op. 37 No. 2, an intermediate-level piece published in 1906 while the composer was still under the influence of his teacher and friend, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

This Prelude exudes a kind of resigned melancholy that is still animated with an undercurrent of passion. It’s in a 12/8 compound meter and provides an outstanding example to work on “ebb-and-flow” rubato, particularly with what I refer to as proportional accelerando and ritardando.

I enjoyed experimenting with ways to heighten the music’s impact by taking inspiration from the composer’s hairpins and articulation. In this Masterclass, I demonstrated practice techniques including scat-singing, agogic accents, and isolating different pairs of voices in the right hand while maintaining harmonic resonance in the bass.

This piece is gratifying to practice and allows you to try out a variety of artistic responses to its rhythm while maintaining the expressive cantabile of the top voice. Some pieces feel ‘personal,’ and this work surely qualifies as a vehicle for you to express your own authentic voice.



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