Nikolaï Miaskovsky
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Lydia Jardon, piano

Sonata n° 2 in F sharp minor op. 13

Lento, ma deciso – Allegro affanato – Allegro con moto e tenebroso – Allegro affanato – Allegro e poco a poco più agitato – Allegro disperato

Sonata n° 3 in C minor op. 19

Con desiderio, improvisato
Moderato con moto, stentato, ma sempre agitato

Sonata n° 4 in C minor op. 27

1. Allegro moderato, irato
2. Andante non troppo quasi Sarabanda
3. Allegro con brio

Art Director and Sound Engineer: Jean-Marc Laisné.
Recorded at L’heure bleue, Salle de musique, La Chaux-de-Fond, Switzerland, on 25, 26, 27th January and 7th April 2009.
Piano: Steinway (Regamey).

Commentary: Georges Hallfa.

AR RE-SE 2009-2

In the Press
Women Musician Encounters

Nikolaï Miaskovsky
Piano Sonatas n° 2, 3, 4

Lydia Jardon, piano

October 2009
Stéphane Friédérich

"Piano quite present, even massive,
but impressive dynamics."

This recital presents scores that are, alas, rarely played or recorded. Less immediately appealing on the rhythmic or harmonic level than those of Prokofiev and Scriabin, held less by the melodious flow than with Medtner, Miaskovsky’s sonatas are no less fascinating. Their epic, violently intensified temperament makes no secret of the diverse influences: Rachmaninov and Scriabin, essentially, along with Debussy and, sometimes, Chopin or even Schumann in the Second Sonata. Lydia Jardon offers us a reading both cutting and highly expressive, preserving the clarity of the writing as much as demonstrating its narrative dimension. Her playing has nothing impulsive about it, and she dominates the fantastic, whimsical side and motor rhythms of these works in impressive fashion. Indeed, it would be so easy to reproduce only a succession of atmospheres ranging from despondency to rage.
This coherence of intention shows the originality of Miaskovsky’s music and, above all, his highly personal handling of sound. The pianist favours the sound matter, in fact, the effects of resonance and the silence after the paroxysm of chords. The discography is hereby enriched by a modern version of reference, which supplants the readings of McLachIan and Hegedüs. In fact, Lydia Jardon obtains a balance between passion and lucidity, a balance we had hoped to find again since the accounts of Richter in the Sonata n°3 (RCA, Pyramid). Just one regret about this disc: the playing time is a bit too short.

October 2009
Alain Cochard

The Russian repertoire clearly suits Lydia Jardon! After the Rachmaninov sonatas and Scriabin’s complete Études (Ar Ré-Sé), she has now tackled a composer infinitely less well known or documented. Granted, his 27 symphonies were recorded by Svetlanov (Warner, 16 CDs), and his chamber works and concertos have not had too much cause to complain, but, aside from the Sonata n°3 by Richter, the discography of Miaskovsky’s piano music has remained extremely barren up until the release of this version of the three sonatas — dating, respectively from 1912, 1920 and 1924 —, the most interesting of the nine left by the composer.
A constant technical challenge, this music never, however, lapses into exteriority and puts its virtuoso surge at the service of sombre, restrained energy. Haunted by the Dies irae theme, Sonata n°2, which opens the programme, sets the tone. Betraying the influence of Scriabin, it, along with the Third, adopts the monolithic construction typical of the Poet of Ecstasy’s Sonatas Nos. 5-10. However, these furious, personal pages let us hear something more than just an epigone: less sulphur and more rage, one might say. Lydia Jardon gives them a sweep and a sound palette of remarkable richness and density.
In Sonata n°4, Miaskovsky adopts a more classic construction, even though the character remains profoundly irato, to borrow the adjective added to the opening Allegro. His masterpiece for the piano? Perhaps. In any case, we admire the intelligence with which the artist combines wrathful intentions and concern for balance.
September 2009
Alain Cochard

Miaskovsky rediscovered
Lydia Jardon in recital at the Athénée

Lydia Jardon? Don’t count on her to do things like everyone else! Create a festival? When the idea came to her about ten years ago, the pianist decided to settle on the island of Ushant. The mockers mocked… ‘Boosted’ by the intelligent mutualisation of forces that Breton festivals carry out/initiate since that summer, ‘Women Musicians at Ushant’ has now become one of the trendiest destinations on the west coast of France.
Choosing repertoire? Lydia Jardon likes nothing better than a challenge and, often, rarity. After very fine recordings of Granados’s Goyescas and the two Rachmaninov Sonatas, the pianist recently released what is now the standard reference by which recordings of the complete Scriabin Etudes must be measured. The universe of Russian music ideally suits the ardour and rich palette of colours of her playing.
When Pascal Ianco, at Éditions du Chant du Monde (1), sent the scores of the Sonatas of Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950) to Lydia Jardon, the artist fell in love at first sight with the music of a hugely talented composer who is overly neglected. About his fellow composer and close friend — who, like himself and Shostakovich, were the object of the combined attack of the sinister comrade Zhdanov in January 1948 — Prokofiev said: ‘Everything that Miaskovsky wrote is profoundly personal and of admirable psychological intuition. This is not the kind of music that quickly becomes popular.’ Miaskovsky’s works were played fairly often in western Europe and the United States during the interwar period, but since then, we have, alas, lost sight of a composer who thoroughly deserves to be (re)discovered.
Maestro Evgeny Svetlanov did a great deal for him, and we have a complete recording of the 27 Symphonies under his fervent baton (Warner, 16 CDs). Henceforth, we shall put Lydia Jardon’s (2) Miaskovsky recital alongside that voluminous set. With Sonatas Nos. 2, 3 — still post-Scriabin in many aspects — and 4, it in fact constitutes the finest recording of Miaskovsky piano music available today and, in addition, presents the composer’s three most appealing sonatas out of the nine he bequeathed to us.
This exceptionally accomplished CD, one of the recording events of the fall season, deserved to be accompanied by a recital. Lydia Jardon will take to the stage of the Théâtre de l’Athénée on Monday 28 September for a Beethoven-Miaskovsky programme in which the Russian’s Sonata n°4 will be contrasted with the Opus 110, whilst the burning Sonata n°2, haunted by the Dies irae theme, will counterbalance the feverish Appassionata. The appeal of the programme can only be further reinforced by its coherence and balance.

(1) To learn more about Miaskovsky and a number of other Russian — but not only — composers, one will gain a lot from consulting the site of Éditions du Chant du Monde:
(2) A recital available, like all of Lydia Jardon’s recordings, on the AR RÉ-SÉ label (dist. Codaex):

L'Education musicale
N° 32
October 2009

Following the publication of Nikolai Miaskovsky’s Piano Sonatas Nos.3 and 4 (see our Newsletter, May 2009), this CD, which, in addition, includes the Second, comes at just the right moment to allow the performers to benefit from the interpretation criteria retained by Lydia Jardon.
Born in 1881 — the year of the death of Tsar Alexander II —, the composer, who was called up in 1914, would be in the service of the administrative staff after the fall of the Tsar. It was only in 1921 that he became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory; in 1948, he was subjected to the persecutions and constraints of the Composers’ Union. His Sonatas Nos.2 in F sharp minor, Op.13 and 3 in C minor, Op.19, both in a single, unbroken movement, have no middle slow movement and exploit the outer registers, sometimes turning to obsession, with discreet quotations of the Dies irae theme (Sonata n°2), and relying on the contrasts of the Lento and Allegro movements. Georges Hallfa compares them to ‘a spiritualist perspective on the new Man, which Communist ideology considered from the material angle’. Sonata n°4, in C minor, Op.27, is tripartite: Allegro…, Andante… and Allegro con brio. The eminent pianist makes child’s play of all the pitfalls in these Sonatas, thanks to flawless technique and unfailing energy.


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