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I have heard it said that Russians hear Petrushka as a set of folk-song arrangements. It is only when one encounters familiar ‘Stravinskyan’ tunes in other, earlier contexts that this becomes obvious, as in the collection of the 50 Russian Folk Songs that Tchaikovsky arranged in 1868, some of which Stravinsky drew upon.

Tchaikovsky also pillaged his own collection, which can sound like a whistle-stop tour through some of his most familiar works – the first quartet, the Serenade for Strings, second symphony, Tempest Overture (whose quoted tune also crops up in Musorgsky’s Khovanshchina) and the 1812 Overture! Fifteen pieces do not exceed half a minute, while the longest – the ubiquitous Song of the Volga Boatmen, given a full-on symphonic treatment in miniature – does not make it past two.

Three of Glinka’s pieces are all considerably longer than the Volga Boatmen, the best known being the delightful, pioneering Kamarinskaya (1848, given here in Balakirev’s 1902 transcription). This imaginative fantasy on a wedding song and a dance is considered the first concert work based on Russian folk tunes. In fact, the Capriccio on Russian Themes predated Kamarinskaya by 14 years, though it wasn’t performed in public until 1904. The other Glinka pieces on this disc are slighter, largely light music of the ho-hum variety. Nonetheless, Katsaris and Ghindin despatch them with élan, as they do the entire programme. Throughout, Piano21’s sound is beautifully realised.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing