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This volume pays homage to the overlooked Russian modernist composer and pianist Arthur Vincent Lourié (1892-1966), who has lately been recorded by such discerning pianists as Jenny Lin (Hänssler Classic 98480 and 98037), Marc-André Hamelin (Hyperion 67275), Benedikt Koehlen (Telos 134), Matthias Veit (Tyx Art 12009), Larry Sitsky (Move 3328) and Jascha Nemtsov (EDA 12). Lourié’s intriguingly variegated, rhythmically insistent piano works such as A Phoenix Park Nocturne (1936) derive from solid foundations in keyboard study in St Petersburg with Anatoly Drozdov and Maria Barinova, the latter a pupil of Josef Hofmann and Ferruccio Busoni. A onetime friend and amanuensis for Igor Stravinsky and Serge Koussevitzky, Lourié was overshadowed by these famed musicians and rarely did anyone say a good word about his own works. Barinova acknowledged his performing talent, but termed him a ‘man of fashion, decadent to the utmost’. Even less enthused was a director of Schott music publishing, who in 1932 declared that Lourié resembled ‘an ascetic monk in a cassock of Stravinskian design, whose humanity occupies second place behind his intellect’. Previous writers have stressed Lourié’s other friendships among Futurist poets and artists, but Funeral Games in Honor of Arthur Vincent Lourié underlines that Lourié’s music ‘does not accord with the aesthetics of the Russian Futurists, which tended to be crude and provocative’. Lourié’s dandyish persona was influenced by Beau Brummell (who also influenced Ravel, among other modernists). Identifying Lourié as a neoclassicist, Funeral Games helps elucidate the mystery of his compositions.

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing