A sidelined Russian composer turns 80 this week

In the late Soviet era, Nikolai Kapustin looked like a route to the future – a composer who ignored party norms and wrote in an idiom that, while rooted in Bach, is easily mistaken for jazz.

He turns 80 this week, on November 22.

Let’s give him a shout-out.

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    • Yes there is. Listen to Maurice Davies’s Saxophone Sonata.The first performance is on Youtube. I wrote it for the most brilliant student I ever played for. It will never get a better performance. But is it not worthy of wider recognition and professional performances? I keep trying but – – –

      • I listened to Maurice Davies’ sonata and quite enjoyed it. My advice, be as practical as possible, transcribe it for violin and suddenly you have 10 times the potential players.

  • Kapustin’s works are fascinating, perhaps more so for other musicians than for casual listeners, but hugely to be enjoyed by all with curious minds. There are quite stunning recordings of his piano music by Marc-Andre Hamelin and by Steven Osborne.

  • He’s a fascinating composer. A look at his scores reveals tremendous craft in addition to no small amount of originality and inspiration. My friend Eliesha Nelson recorded his Viola Sonata; Kapustin was so taken by her performance that he wrote a new work for her, the recent Sonatina for Viola.

  • “…an idiom that, while rooted in Bach, is easily mistaken for jazz”: actually, not really “mistaken” regarding this particular Prelude n.11, which pure plain jazz idiom like a pianist could improvise it. More interesting, in my opinion, when Kapustin uses this into more “classical” contexts/forms, for example Piano Etudes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=116QHk9jNGI
    or strings chamber works:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4kwb2kWZow
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY2YyfwtD3c

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