Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
piston
Posts: 10767
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:50 am

Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by piston » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:00 pm

Andrei Eshpai was born on May 15, 1925, in Kozmodemyansk, an old city of the Mari Republic of the USSR. His father, Jacob A. Eshpay (1890-1963) was a composer, musicologist, choirmaster and educator. He wrote the first Mari works for solo instruments, chamber music, choir, and orchestra, and collected some five hundred folk songs. His mother, Valentine (1898-1982) taught Russian literature and was an expert in Mari, Chuvash and Mordvin folk songs. She was the niece of composer Anatoly Togan. Eshpai's parents, who had moved to Moscow, spent each summer on the Volga, at Togan's house, where the "air was saturated with music."

Late in World War II, young Andrew Eshpai found himself on the war front. A lieutenant, he fought in the Third Soviet Shock Army from the liberation of Warsaw all the way to the very walls of Berlin, where several of his best friends fell in combat. He briefly served as an intelligence officer and, after demobilization, he turned his full attention to music, at the Moscow Conservatory.

Beginning in the class of Messner, he later studied composition under N. Rakov, N. Myaskovsky (at the end of his life), and Golubeva, and piano under none other than Sofronitsky. Recognized as an outstanding student upon his graduation, he was further admitted in the graduate school to study with Aram Khachaturian between 1953 and 1956.

His first major work was folkloric, his Symphonic Dances on Mari Themes (1951), a remarkable work which has been performed by numerous orchestras. I detect the late- or post-romantic influence of Myaskovsky and I am sure that Eshpai's father is also being musically recognized.



A talented pianist, Eshpai dedicated his first piano concerto (1954) to Maurice Ravel, actually blending Mari themes to subtle musical references to the French composer. Svetlanov gave the concerto its first performance in December 1954, with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. The work was then followed by his Violin Concerto which earned the first prize at the World Festival of Young Composers in Moscow in 1957.

His first symphony was devoted to the memory of the fallen, the military brotherhood on the front line, the forgotten. This time G. Rozhdestvensky performed the world premiere with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra the year of the work's completion, in 1959.

A second symphony rapidly followed, this time celebrating nature's life, not a static life but in a constant state of birth, of renewal. This "Praise to Light" or to our renewable world was dedicated to the USSR State Symphony Orchestra and conductor K. Ivanov who performed the work on the year of its completion, in 1962.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XSIcvaQ ... ults_video


Following the death of his father 1963, Eshpai began work on a third symphony to be dedicated to his memory. References to two folks songs about street life and water flowing in nature recur in this symphony, This work was premiered in Brussels, by the Belgian Radio Orchestra, under the direction of K. Ivanov, the same year as it was completed.


Twenty years later, Andrew Eshpai would dedicate another lovely work to his father Songs of the Mountain and Meadow Mari for flute, four French horns, harp, celesta, timpani, and string orchestra (1983), based on Mari poetry.

The very lively Concerto Grosso for solo trumpet, vibraphone, piano, and bass was then written in about two weeks. Gennady Rozhdestvensky introduced this work, again shortly after its completion, in September 1967. In Evgeny Svetlanov's opinion, it is one of the most remarkable works of contemporary music in recent years, with its rich discoveries on virtually every page of the score. If you like jazzy classical music, this one is a MUST listen!


Eshpai's second Piano Concerto was commissioned by the International Music Council of the UNESCO and first performed at the World Music Week in Bratislava on October 14, 1977, by the Symphony Orchestra of Frankfurt under the direction of E. Inbal.

His second Violin Concerto was no less acclaimed in Mexico, where it was performed by the Academic Symphony Orchestra of Moscow under the direction of D. Kitaenko, by violinist E. Grach.

In my opinion, Eshpai's ballet Angara is a stunning work, even though I never saw it performed. It was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet in April 1976 and I'm sure its environmental theme -- the Angara River, with its beauty and unpredictability -- largely explains why I am so drawn to its music. The score, rich in orchestral colors, includes Russian folk instruments such as the balalaika, domra, and accordion.



Commissioned for another ballet score after the success of Angara, Eshpai turned to dark existential or civilization issues in "Circle," such as the death of civilization and its struggles for life, including war. "Even if you do not write specifically about the war," he stated, "it is still present in the artist who was at the front." Those who fought cannot express what they lived and those who did not fight will never know what it is. Of all the greatest people you know, the war has claimed the best...... The ballet is a warning about an ever more realistic apocalypse and, in this sense, an anti-war or pacifist work. The premiere occurred on 23 February 1981, by the Kuibyshev Opera and Ballet company.

This cultural production found additional orchestral expression in Eshpai's fourth symphony, a "Symphony-Ballet," premiered under the direction of V. Fedoseyev in October 1981.

For the Second International Music Festival in Moscow, in May 1984, Eshpai submitted a Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra, a work with jazz moments once again, which, at the request of the audience, was fully repeated. (This work had been premiered earlier, in October 1982).

Eshpai then returns to his key message for, or vision of, a world which cannot be a place for apocalyptic violence in his fifth, anti-militaristic, symphony . It is remarkable, and perhaps little known beyond Russia, that one of the most front-military-line veteran and then composers in the whole history of classical music should be such an expressive anti-war composer. The militaristic theme, beginning at 6:00, is reminiscent in some ways of Shostakovich's depiction of the advancing death machine in his seventh symphony. A statement about Russian lives lost in Afghanistan? This powerful work was premiere on April 1, 1986 by E. Svetlanov and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra.


With his sixth, liturgical, symphony, Eshpai brings forth to the attention of his compatriots a millennium of Christianity in Russia after decades of religious repression under Soviet autocrats. The Seventh symphony follows on a similar spiritual theme of religious liberation but this time expressed by instruments alone.

As a tribute to Shostakovich's string quartets, Eshpai wrote "Concordia discordans" if only to assert that the great Soviet composer is not dead (has prevailed?) and will not be forgotten.

More music followed including several concertos for different instruments (cello, dedicated to Rostropovich, third violin "Bartok concerto" followed by a fourth one, flute, clarinet, trumpet and trombone, double bass and bassoon, tuba, bassoon, and French horn) and two more symphonies. More to discover!

As this incomplete sketch reveals, Andrei Eshpai has not only been creative and productive, he has also been performed by very reputable orchestras, ballets, etc., shortly after any of his work was completed.

He is an aging "contemporary" composer who has truly resonated from Moscow to Albany, NY, and far beyond!
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

diegobueno
Winds Specialist
Posts: 2507
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by diegobueno » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:44 am

piston wrote: The very lively Concerto Grosso for solo trumpet, vibraphone, piano, and bass was then written in about two weeks. Gennady Rozhdestvensky introduced this work, again shortly after its completion, in September 1967. In Evgeny Svetlanov's opinion, it is one of the most remarkable works of contemporary music in recent years, with its rich discoveries on virtually every page of the score. If you like jazzy classical music, this one is a MUST listen!
I really enjoyed this one. There are places where I can't get the image of the Jets fighting the Sharks out of my head, but I still enjoyed it.

maestrob
Posts: 6919
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by maestrob » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:13 am

Yes, I did too! Thank-you, piston, for an excellent post.

piston
Posts: 10767
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:50 am

Re: Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by piston » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:27 pm

My pleasure! The discography is not that very long, especially if one excludes LPs from Melodiya and Eterna/Melodiya (where some recordings, such as the ballet Angara, have not been reissued on Cds).

Among the oldest Cds are two Russian Discs:
Image
CD Russian Disc RD CD 11 054

Viola Concerto in one movement (1987)
Duration: 21 min.
USSR S.O., F. Glushenko (cond), Y. Bashmet (viola);

Violin Concerto No. 2 (1977)
In memory of Nikolai Miaskovsky.
In one movement.
Duration: 24 min.
Moscow PO, D. Kitaenko (cond), E. Grach (violin)

Piano Concerto No. 2 (1972)
Duration: 18 min.
In one movement.
Moscow PO, D. Kitaenko (cond), V. Krainev (piano)

"Concerto Grosso", concerto for trumpet, piano, vibraphone, double-bass and orchestra (1966-1967)
In one movement.
Duration: 14 min.
CD Russian Disc RD CD 11 054: USSR State SO, Y. Svetlanov (cond), A. Maksimenko (trumpet), R. Azarkhin (double-bass), P. Meshchanikov (piano), B. Stepanov (vibraphone)


Image
CD Russian Disc RD CD 11 051
Symphony no. 4 "Symphony-Ballet" (1980-1981)
In one movement.
Duration: 35 min.
USSR Large Television and Radio SO, V. Fedoseyev (cond)

Symphony No. 5 (1985)
Dedicated to Yevgeny Svetlanov.
In one movement.
Duration: 26 min.
USSR SO, V. Fedoseyev (cond)

Moscow Musical Publishers-Harmony offer two great 2-CD compilations:
Image
Image
Image

Image
Image
Image


While it reissued some old Melodiya recordings, Albany-Troy actually turned out several new recordings, such as the seventh symphony and several concertos:

Image

Image

Image

Image

If you can find it, there's also this Olympia CD with a unique Eshpai recording:
Image
Image

MCA Arts & Electronics also features violinist Leonora Dmiterko, a Eshpai interpreter who is all over youtube, performing the two sonatas for violin and piano.
Image

Additionally, a Japanese pianist has produced a recording of some of his piano music.


Most needed for reissue or orginal recording are:
The ballet music for Angara
LP Melodiya C10 11949-50 (Excerpts): Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, A. Ziuraitis (cond)
The concerto for 'cello and orchestra
The concerto for clarinet and string orchestra
The concerto for trumpet, trombone and orchestra
"The crossing of the Alps by Sivorov" which is apparently an impressive orchestral work.
The ninth symphony
The concerto "Opus Singularis" for bassoon and string orchestra.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
Posts: 10767
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:50 am

Re: Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by piston » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:10 pm

A last post on this thread to suggest a possible cultural explanation for Eshpai's numerous references to Bartok's music and his close affiliation with Zoltan Kodaly in the winter of his life. Mari people form an ethnic group related ancestrally to the Hungarians, Estonians and Finns as speakers of the Uralic languages:
The Uralic languages pron.: /jʊərˈrælɨk/ (sometimes called Uralian /jʊˈreɪliən/ languages) constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt.
According to wiki, the very source of these Uralic speakers is ... the Volga River:
In recent times, linguists often place the Urheimat, (German: original homeland), of the Proto-Uralic language in the vicinity of the Volga River, west of the Urals, close to the Urheimat of the Indo-European languages, or to the east and southeast of the Urals.
Apparently, Andrei Eshpai's summer vacations, immersed in his people's folk songs, on the edge of the Volga River, indicates that he was raised in his people's very old homeland, from where the Hungarians, Estonians, and Finns migrated at some point in their respective histories.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18479
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by Lance » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:51 pm

Jacques, a stunning post in every respect, replete with music illustrative CDs. I cannot believe I do not have a single work by Eshpei, at least on CDs! Keep 'em coming! Very informative, indeed.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

THEHORN
Posts: 2623
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:57 am

Re: Andrew Eshpai (b. 1925): a short guide to his music

Post by THEHORN » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:14 pm

I haven't heard any of Eshpai's music , although I've heard of him before . I'm definitely curious to try it. Recently I saw an interesting video on the Mari people on youtube. It shows how some of them have actually preserved their ancient pagan Finnic religion and still follow it, making them the only pagan people left in Europe .

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 28 guests