Faculty of Music
"Parallels" a meeting of scholarly and musical interests
Anya Alexeyev's new CD includes liner notes by Dr. Anna Ferenc
In 2009, when piano professor Anya Alexeyev decided to record the works of Alexander Scriabin and a second composer, Dr. Anna Ferenc suggested Nikolai Roslavets, saying she didn’t know of a recording that features both. Taking that advice, Alexeyev has released a CD—Ferenc providing the liner notes—aptly titled Parallels on the Marquis Classics label.
The Moscow composers were contemporaries at the turn of the 20th century though Ferenc notes that Roslavets was born in territory that belonged to Ukraine, but is currently part of Russia. Scriabin was born into an aristocratic family and trained formally from a young age, completing his studies at the Moscow Conservatory. Roslavets, self-taught, playing the violin as a youngster, also completed his study at the Moscow Conservatory—Scriabin was the more popular composer then and now as Roslavets’ work is rarely performed.
Ferenc began studying Roslavets’ work in graduate school, and says, in the first paragraph of her CD notes that, “the pairing of these two composers may be a novel idea, but it is long overdue and illustrates a connection between their compositions that has been overlooked.”
Roslavets and Scriabin are regarded as iconoclastic composers but Parallels, which includes many identically titled compositions, shows how the composers are connected aesthetically, Roslavets building on Scriabin’s chord use to develop his own "synthetic chord" organization thereby continuing post-tonal exploration.
“I find everything else I’ve done since the recording is easy,” Alexeyev says. “Roslavets presents all kinds of challenges, not just technical and intellectual. Roslavets had his own scale system, the notes written more theoretically than practically so I had to spend an awful lot of time figuring out the text and its rhythms. I have never encountered this type of complexity—there are double and triple sharps, and some accidentals nobody ever uses. In fact, there is a whole new species of accidentals.”
Despite the complexity of Roslavets’ work, Alexeyev makes the music immediate. “Roslavets’ compositions are definitely an acquired taste,” Ferenc says of the composer’s work. “But Anya has been able to get beyond the difficult notation and bring the music forward to make it accessible. There may be only one or two people on the planet who are able to do that!”
Alexeyev is just as appreciative of Ferenc: “I’m extremely grateful to Anna for introducing me to this music and for writing fabulous notes. Without them, the ideas about the time in which these two composers lived and the threads between them wouldn’t have been so clear.”
The CD is available for purchase at various websites including those of iTunes, Amazon, and Marquis Classics. Click here for more information on the recording.