Andrey Kasparov, piano
Pianist and composer Andrey Kasparov was born on 6 April 1966 in Baku, Azerbaijan, to a family of Armenian descent. He began his musical studies at the age of six, and he moved to Moscow at fifteen. He later entered the Moscow State Conservatory, graduating with honors in Music Composition and Piano, in 1989 and 1990, respectively. At the Conservatory, he studied harmony and counterpoint were with Yuri Kholopov, a famous Russian musicologist. Among his keyboard instructors were Nina Emelianova, Vladimir Bunin, Sergei Dizhur, Dmitri Sakharov, and Victor Merzhanov. His composition studies began with Tatyana Chudova and Tikhon Khrennikov; he later continued them in the independent studio of Alexandr Chaikovsky. In 1985, he was awarded a Third Prize for his Toccata for piano, and in 1987, was awarded Second Prize for his Six Aphorisms for flute, violin and cello, at the All-USSR Composition Competition.
Kasparov pursued subsequent doctoral studies in composition at the Jacobs School of Music and the Indiana University at Bloomington, with Claude Baker, Wayne Peterson, Harvey Sollberger, and Eugene O'Brien, and conducting instructor, Thomas Baldner. He also participated in Courses for New Music in 1996, in Darmstadt, Germany. In 1997 he was awarded Second Prize at the Prokofiev International Composers Competition for his Piano Sonata No. 2, a work on two contrasting twelve-tone rows. Kasparov earned his D.M. in Music Composition from Indiana University in 1999.
Presently, Dr. Kasparov serves as a Professor of Music at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate music composition, piano, and all levels of undergraduate music theory, as well as leading the new music ensemble.
Between 1998 and 2008, Kasparov led Creo, the Old Dominion University's resident ensemble for contemporary music. The group's final performance in March 2008, featured the premiere of Kasparov's composition, Tsitsernakabert, for modern dance and six musicians: alto flute, bass/ contrabass flute, violin, two percussionists, and mezzo-soprano. Among the participating artists were members of the Second Wind Dance Company and mezzo-soprano Lisa Relaford Coston. Co-choreographed by Beverly Cordova Duane and Christina Yoshida, the work opened with eight dancers posed in a circle, inclined toward the circle's centre in a tableau reminiscent of the eponymous memorial to victims of the Armenian Genocide. Kasparov had previously worked with the Second Wind Dance Company in 2005, in collaboration with choreographer Jelon Vieira, on Iao, an original work for dance, mezzo-soprano, and percussion, which incorporated elements of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance and Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art.
Besides his career as a composer and academic, Kasparov is a concert pianist and recording artist, whose discography encompasses several record labels including Albany Records and Naxos Records. Since 2009, he has shared the Artistic Directorship of the Norfolk Chamber Consort with wife and fellow pianist, Oksana Lutsyshyn. Together, they are co-founders of the Invencia Piano Duo.
Beginning in 1994 and in conjunction with Peter Bartók and Nelson Dellamaggiore, Kasparov began research into editing projects concerning Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3 and his Viola Concerto.
Bartók's health grew steadily worse as he worked to complete his Third Piano Concerto, and his rapid decline eventually forced him to concede admittance to a hospital. Consequently, the last seventeen measures of the score were left in rough sketch. Before entering the hospital, however, he gave explicit instructions to his son, Peter, to insert seventeen bar-lines and a double-bar at the end; in his haste to finish the work, Béla had noted the precise ending in his native Hungarian. Bartók never returned to oversee the Piano Concerto's completion, having succumbed to leukemia on 26 September 1945. Final orchestration was eventually executed from the composer's notes by his friend, Tibor Serly. The Third Piano Concerto was later published in an edition by Serly and Erwin Stein, an editor for Boosey & Hawkes. The original manuscript, along with numerous others, then became the subject of a protracted legal dispute between a trustee of Bartók's estate, Peter, and Béla's second wife, Ditta Pásztory-Bartók. The trustee asserted the composer had lost title to his own work in his lifetime, a claim disputed by Peter Bartók. The same trustee also denied Ditta's right to any income from music sales, so long as ownership remained in contest. Throughout the forty subsequent years of legal battles, all of the original manuscripts remained inaccessible. Only with the deaths of both the trustee and Ditta was Peter able to regain full possession of his father's documents and begin the long-overdue process of editing them. It was at this time the Viola Concerto, presumed lost, was rediscovered, amongst the possessions of the deceased trustee.
Peter Bartók's intent, in association with Nelson Dellamaggiore, was to reprint and revise past editions of both scores, as well as to eradicate the many printed errors identified but never corrected by his father. Although few in actual number, changes made to the Piano Concerto affected the pitch content, pedalling, and tempos of several key passages. Overall, the revisions included including pencil markings by the composer in the final manuscript, not reproduced in the final photo-reproduction; adding revisions based on initial sketches by Béla Bartók; incorporating suggestions by editors and musicians involved in past performances of the Concerto; correcting typographical errors; and correcting errors in the printed piano part, appearing only in the two-piano reduction of the score.
In 1994, Kasparov was soloist with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic (formerly Columbus Pro Musica) in the world premiere of the revised edition of Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3. According to conductor David Bowden, and Peter Bartók, who was in attendance:
"These changes generally make the piano part more accessible or clarify questions of chordal structure...."
The revised editions of both the two-piano reduction and the orchestral score of the Piano Concerto No. 3 are available from Boosey & Hawkes.
In 1920, in tribute to the late Claude Debussy, the French music journal La Revue musicale commissioned works by contemporary composers and concert artists. The collection was published under the title Tombeau de Claude Debussy, with contributions from Paul Dukas, Albert Roussel, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Eugene Goossens, Béla Bartók, Florent Schmitt, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, Manuel de Falla, and Erik Satie. Encouraged by the success of this premiere collaboration, editor Henry Prunières proposed a second dedicatory work. Published in 1922, seven of Gabriel Fauré's students laboured to produce Hommage à Gabriel Fauré. Ravel offered a work for solo violin; Charles Koechlin and Jean Roger-Ducasse composed four hands pieces for the piano; George Enescu, Louis Aubert, Florent Schmitt, and Paul Ladmirault each contributed pieces for solo piano.
Released in 2007 by Albany Records, with violinists Desiree Ruhstrat and Pavel Ilyashov, cellist David Cunliffe, guitarist Timothy Olbrych, and mezzo-soprano Lisa Relaford Coston, the Invencia Piano Duo (Andrey Kasparov and Oksana Lutsyshyn) produced Hommages Musicaux, which contained both Tombeau de Claude Debussy and Hommage à Gabriel Fauré.
In the mid 1990s, during production of Hommages Musicaux, the Invencia Piano Duo was introduced to the catalogue of composer Florent Schmitt. Intended as a tribute to Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré, the recording featured Tombeau de Claude Debussy and Hommage à Gabriel Fauré. Within each of these cycles was contained one of Schmitt's works for piano. Kasparov and Lutsyshyn were:
“...captivated by the richness of Schmitt’s multi-layered harmonies and textures, as well as the vitality of the rhythmic structures in the music.”
Kasparov's dedication to Florent Schmitt’s duo-piano music, in collaboration with Oksana Lutsyshyn, culminated in the release of four CDs by Naxos Records as part of its Grand Piano series.
Issued in 2012, Volume 1 contained Schmitt’s Trois rapsodies, Op. 53, and the first-ever recording of Schmitt’s Sept pièces, Op. 15, composed in 1899. The album concluded with a previously unpublished work, Rhapsodie parisienne. Composed in 1900, it is one of two unpublished duets by Schmitt. According to Kasparov, pencil notations in the score indicated the composer intended it for later orchestration. Special permission to record Rhapsodie parisienne was granted by Mme. Annie Schmitt, granddaughter of Florent. The first volume was voted "Recording of the Month" and "Critics' Choice" by MusicWeb International and Naxos Records, respectively, in May 2013.
It is unclear whether many of Schmitt's works for piano duet had ever received formal public performances in Europe, prior to the Invencia Piano Duo's revival of his compositions. A number appear to have been composed by Schmitt as piano études, particularly the two premiere recordings, Sur cinq notes, Op. 34 and Eight Easy Pieces, Op. 41, which were included on Volume 2. Kasparov has asserted that Schmitt experimented with a method of composition based on the first five notes of the diatonic scale, an approach later adopted by the likes of Igor Stravinsky in both his Five Easy Pieces for piano duet, published in 1917, and his Les cinq doigts for solo piano, published in 1921.
Volume 3 heralded the debut recordings of a six-movement work composed between 1895 and 1902, Musiques foraines, Op. 22, and the Marche du 163 R.I., Op. 48. Volume 4 featured yet another of Schmitt's compositions derived from the five set notes of the primo part, Trois pièces récréatives, Op. 37. The same album contained the first-ever issue of the Lied et Scherzo, Op. 54, in Schmitt’s version for piano four-hands, played on two pianos; composed in 1910 for double woodwind quintet; alternate editions of this piece were also prepared by the composer for horn and piano, as well as cello and piano.
As of November, 2016, it was announced all four volumes would be made available in a box set on the Grand Piano label of Naxos Records, with a scheduled release in January 2017.