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Globally Acclaimed Pianist Vladimir Khomyakov To Release A Highly-Anticipated New Album, “SCRATCH”

Written by: Anna Goryacheva, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Khomyakov is praised by audiences and critics worldwide for the virtuosity, charismatic artistry, and emotional intensity of his playing; perpetuating the heritage of European and American piano schools, he uniquely combines the traditions with the individuality of a sensitive and passionate artist.

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On December 1st, pianist Vladimir Khomyakov is releasing his third studio album, SCRATCH. I was privileged to obtain a physical copy of the recording directly from Vladimir, and I am excited to be one of the first to listen to it and exclusively review it for Brainz. Being a collection of works by Russian composers, the title is also an abbreviation of the names of three of them – Alexander Scriabin, Sergey Rachmaninoff, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In terms of impact, this recording is one of the most moving and astonishing albums I have ever encountered and something you don't want to miss if you love piano. The four of Rachmaninoff's Préludes evenly spread throughout the album are most admired by the audiences. The dramatic Préludein C-sharp Minor from the composer's early Opus 3 opens the recording with a powerful statement of three massive octaves, followed by a dark and gloomy melody, which everyone will instantly recognize. If you would have to name just one piece associated with Russian piano music of all times – people will call Rachmaninoff's Prélude in G-Minor among the very few others. Masterfully performed, with its fateful rhythms, virtuosic octaves, great dynamic variety, and polyphonic and harmonic richness of the middle section ‒ Khomyakov's version worthily can be added to the list of most excellent recordings. Elégie takes the place of the lyrical center of the album and is one of the most recognizable tunes in classical music. It is hard to describe all the feelings and emotions that Rachmaninoff put into this work, but the emotional effect of this music is comparable with very few other pieces.

Vladimir has genuinely lived through it, which you can feel in every note the pianist plays. The album is thoughtfully structured in terms of tonal and musical relations, making it one solid work of art. One track goes into another with deep thought and a dramatic sense. Thus whirlwind Étude in D-sharp minor by Alexander Scriabin – one of two Scriabin's Études on the album – happens to be an enharmonic replacement for the key of E-flat Minor in Elégie. Khomyakov plays it with great virtuosity and harmonic clarity, though with the highest degree of dramatism and power.


Four compositions represent the heritage of Tchaikovsky – Romance, Nocturne, Sentimental Valse, and Dumka. Best known for "The Seasons" and his symphonic and theater work, Tchaikovsky did not write much for solo piano, so many western listeners will discover some of these gems for the first time. Of all of them, Dumka is the longest track in the entire album, lasting well over ten minutes. This epic ballade-style composition, subtitled Russian Rustic Scene, presents a stunning variety of moods and tempi, with a melodic introduction, exciting dance rhythms, and a dramatic"frozen" ending with two shocking final chords.


Mazurka by Mikhail Glinka – a simple yet beautiful interlude before Dumka – is intriguing. This single-page sketch was published in a periodic magazine and is the only composition on the album without an opus number. It tastefully sets off the surrounding large-scale works with its simplicity.


As you can probably notice, a dark world of minor tonalities dominates in the album. Out of thirteen, only two last tracks bring some light ‒ brilliantly performed Rachmaninoff's whirlwind Prélude in B-flat Major and Anatoly Lyadov's Une Tabatière à Musique. The French title stands for Music Box, also marked as Joke-Valse, and the composition tastefully concludes the album, imitating the slowing down and intermittence of a musical toy.


What also makes this recording so unique is the piano sound, which I rarely get caught by with classical recordings. The audible architecture in the tracks is the most amazing I have ever heard, with the layers of the texture so transparent that you can almost physically feel them. For this album, Vladimir collaborated with Andrey Borisov, one of Europe's best engineers and sound designers. So while the recording process happened in Los Angeles, California – using American Steinway Model D – the final stages of the production took place at Borisov's studio in Moscow. Luckily their collaboration will continue in the next release scheduled for 2023 with the works of Ravel and Mussorgsky.


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Anna Goryacheva, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Anna Goryacheva is an award-winning Russian-American pianist, recording artist, educator, and entrepreneur. Being a brilliant soloist and chamber musician, Anna performed recitals in Russia, United States, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden. Her solo and orchestra performances were broadcast on the radio and television worldwide. Anna is the Founder of Elite Piano Institute the top piano school in Los Angeles, California. She has also gained recognition as a renowned pedagogue and has been featured in numerous media outlets for her expertise as a piano coach such as Thrive Global, Kivo Daily, Influencive, America Daily Post, The American Reporter, Voyagela, Disrupt Magazine, to name a few. In 2020 Anna was featured in the Brainz Magazine global list of 500 entrepreneurs, influential leaders, educators, and business owners worldwide recognized for their success, achievements, and unique work.

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