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Ustvolskaya was an enigma: a quiet, reserved and introspective individual who wrote powerful, massively constructed (yet short in length) music which astounded her audiences and ten years after her death is becoming highly regarded and Ustvolskaya is almost becoming a cult figure. Unrelelenting rhythms in many works brought her the nickname 'The Lady with the Hammer'. Russian pianist Natalia Andreeva has however studied the music in great depth and while fully committed to the great mechanistic climaxes also brings out the lyrical and melodic qualities which are always present, expecially in the earlier works such as the picturesque Preludes. This composer, a pupil of Shostakovich (who claimed that he could teach her nothing new), will be seen in hindsight as a pivotal figure in the development of 20th century Soviet/Russian music.

vol. 1 - Shostakovich and Comrades  vol. 2 - Vladimir Rebikov vol. 3 - Reinhold Glière
vol. 4 - Sergei Lyapunov
   vol. 5 - Anton Arensky   vol. 6 Sergei Rachmaninov
vol. 7 - Sergei Prokofiev    vol. 8 - Mussorgsky    vol. 9 - Mieczyslaw Weinberg  vol. 10 Weinberg (II)
and buy the entire set at 25% off here

CD DURATION:  90:39 (2 discs)

AUDIO SAMPLE: Sonata no. 1 - finale (extract)

dealer release date: September 11, 2015





CD program:

12 Preludes
Piano Sonata No. 1
Piano Sonata No. 2
Piano Sonata No. 3
Piano Sonata No. 4
Piano Sonata No. 5
Piano Sonata No. 6

review extracts: for full reviews click here

“Breath-taking ... for the breadth of insight Natalia Andreeva brings to these scores. Ustvolskaya has a voice all of her own. There is a Webernian concision to her expressive means; nothing is wasted, nothing is frivolous. Strongly recommended as a reminder of the sheer power music can wield.” – Colin Clarke (Fanfare)

“[Ustvolskaya's] music is completely original, yet quintessentially Russian. Ms Andreeva is most impressive. This is astonishing music (Shostakovich thought so as well). A welcome release.” - Allen Gimbel (American Record Guide)
“This double CD is an invaluable introduction to a composer who will be seen in hindsight as a pivotal figure in the development of twentieth century Soviet/Russian music.” – John Pitt (New Classics)

“Skilled and totally committed readings. Galina Ustvolskaya was a significant figure even when the concert public barely knew of her. We are drawn lucidly into an output for the piano that can sound like ... the evolution of an original artist who rigorously controlled the process of change. Personally, I found it liberating to listen to this release; it added a dimension to Soviet music culture that I barely suspected, besides introducing one of the most intriguing Modernist imaginations one could ever imagine surviving under such hostile conditions.” - Huntley Dent (Fanfare)

“Even the briefest of introductions to this music divulges a sound-world that is far removed from anything we have come to expect of Soviet Russian music. I recognise its huge importance and its massive contribution to Russian music. Ustvolskaya has been given the soubriquet as ‘The Lady with the Hammer' and this is sometimes appropriate. However, much of this music sounds tentative rather than violent or abrasive. The first-rate liner notes by the present pianist Natalia Andreeva set out detailed information about all these pieces as well as some interpretive commentary. The present pianist contributes well to the bleakness, the barbarity and the abstraction of this music. She exhibits superb technical mastery of the music.” – John France (MusicWeb)
“Natalia Andreeva gives us finely honed, expressively thoroughgoing renditions …[she] conveys to us the picture of a composer of acute demeanor, a school of one if you like. It is beautiful music, totally without concessions, extraordinarily original, turgid, high modern without respite. That means you must put yourself squarely into her world to appreciate her the more deeply. And if you do that repeatedly there is magic. Ustvolskaya, based on this recording, is a discovery of great magnitude. I salute Ms. Andreeva and those at Divine Art for making this music so vibrantly available to us. Galina Ustvolskaya and this set of the piano music is a highly important one, something that will surely give you another way of hearing musical modernity. Bravo! Terrific!” - Grego Edwards (Gapplegate Classical Modern Music)

“ I can detect no shortcomings in Andreeva's interpretations. Her playing is technically proficient, and she is scrupulous in matters of weighting and dynamics. The sound of this recording is spacious, vivid, and clear. This release has persuaded me that Galina Ustvolskaya is a very interesting composer, one whose music is well worth exploring, and I recommend it.” - Daniel Morrison (Fanfare)

“Russian pianist Natalia Andreeva, who now lectures in Australia, has studied Ustvolskaya in depth and captures the sound the composer wanted. We like Ustvolskaya because she asked people not to analyse her music, just listen, and it is music that should be taken as it is. In a nutshell this is the opposite of romantic: it's the melancholy of Russia, where happiness is probably laced with vodka and life is hard.” – Jeremy Condliffe (The Chronicle)

“You can hear [the Preludes] as a mid-point in Ustvolskaya's stylistic evolution, paring back the harmony (what remains is often generated by the counterpoint) and reducing melodies to angular, often repeated, shapes. It may be too hard-edged to be spellbinding, but its incantatory patterns and relentless repetitions do have a hypnotic effect. It says much for Natalia Andreeva that she gets such variety of expression from such self-contained material. Most importantly, Andreeva gives us more to listen to than had struck me in this seemingly rebarbative music.” – Martin Anderson (Fanfare)

“Natalia Andreeva gives [the music] more spiritual than acoustical weight ... it is understatement and melancholy that characterizes the interpretation. The interpretation and playing is consistently insightful.” – Lars Hedblad (Swedish Daily)