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Russian Rarities

The works that appear on this 2-CD set are the result of research and performance into a particular era of Russian music. Although the musical distance between the Rubinstein Op.88 Variations and the other later Russian works is often vast, the chronological time is actually fairly short.

The amazing leap of style form Rubinstein to the other composers recorded here happened in the space of only a few short years. Russia was in turmoil, the verge of revolution, and given such a state, it was inevitable that music would change rapidly and probably extremely.

This group of composers led the world avant-garde in their day. I am certain that they were seen as Bolsheviks and extremists by the West. Some managed to get published through some Viennese firms, but generally, they were a local product, and eventually, when Stalin came to power in the late 1920s, he banned them totally, because art was there to serve the proletarian ideal, and had to be accessible to the masses. Ironically, the revolution resulted in the suppression of what was seen as the extreme left! The composers were certainly in advance of their counterparts in Europe, for a number of years.

Rubinstein represented the end of the romantic era in Russian piano music, but an era in which he personally chose to ignore the nationalistic school and the ethos of the Mighty Five group of composers, who wished for a truly patriotic school of composition based on Russian folk music; Rubinstein, instead, used European models for his own work, moreover models who represented the more classical aspects of European art (Mendelssohn is a fine example) rather than the more progressive composers such as Liszt. The musical upheavals in Russian music began less than a decade after Rubinstein's death. Were it not for the eventual Stalinist suppression, the group of composers represented on these CDs could well have led and surpassed their European counterparts in their sheer audacity and exuberance. (Larry Sitsky)

The Rubinstein Variations are performed on the Rönisch piano at the Canberra School of Music. The rest of the program is played on a Steinway Model D (not RR3 as the CD box states).


Larry Sitsky

Larry Sitsky's activities as a composer, pianist, writer, broadcaster and teacher place him inevitably to the fore among today's ambassadors of contemporary Australian piano music. Through his work to date he has made a significant contribution to the Australian music tradition.

Press quotes

“ONE of Australia's most neglected senior composers, mainly because of his long-time academic and performing concentration in the ACT, Larry Sitsky made a name for himself through controversy in the 1960s. His compositions have rarely travelled to Melbourne but his reputation as a pianist has, if
anything, grown over the past half-century. This double CD is dedicated to one of Sitsky's main areas of interest: Russian composers prior to and in the decades after the 1917 Revolution. The vast selection begins with Anton Rubinstein's substantial, late Romantic Variations Op. 88 and concludes with miniatures by Vladimir Rebikov and Nikolai Obukhov. In between, Sitsky gives expert and character-loaded interpretations of music by unknowns such as Vladimir Shcherbachev and Leonid Polovinkin, as well as more well-regarded composers such as Artur Lourie and Aleksandr Mosolov. Assisted by Sitsky's virtuosity and insights, these action-packed discs offer both bewildering variety and a surprisingly adventurous spirit of exploration and experiment”

— Clive O'Connell, The Age A2, 26 June 2010

“A labour of love, then, this large-scale exercise. You have to admire Sitsky’s dedication and erudition, as well as the clear evidence throughout these recordings of his innate virtuosity. A lot of it makes for hard listening – not just the sheer percussiveness of a morsel like Deshevov’s Rel’sy which imitates Bartok’s Allegro barbaro in several respects – but the sustained aural onslaught of the three focal sonatas. This music-making gives some welcome substance to our knowledge of a strikingly fertile time in Russia’s musical activity that, for many years, was in danger of being wiped from the memory of all but a few true believers. We should thank Sitsky for his remarkable gift of restoration.”

— Clive O'Connell, O'Connell the Music

Track Listing

    Variations Op. 88 Anton Rubinstein

  1. Theme: Lento, Moderato 2:25
  2. Variation I: Allegro, Moderato 2:20
  3. Variation II: Andante con moto, tempo rubato 3:16
  4. Variation III: Tempo di Marcia 3:02
  5. Variation IV: Andante con moto 3:20
  6. Variation V: Moderato assai 4:11
  7. Variation VI: Vivace 2:20
  8. Variation VII: Moderato assai 3:12
  9. Variation VIII: Moderato con moto 6:07
  10. Variation IX: Moderato 5:19
  11. Variation X: Moderato, patetico 3:28
  12. Variation XI: Allegro 2:36
  13. Variation XII: Allegro moderato 9:37
  14. Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 7 Vladamir Shcherbachev 18:28
  15. Rel'sy (1926) Vladamir Deshevov 1:14
  16. Forms in the Air Artur Lourie

  17. I 1:59
  18. II 2:28
  19. III 2:51

Disc 2

    Syntheses Artur Lourie

  1. I :50
  2. II 1:23
  3. III 1:58
  4. IV 1:32
  5. V :52
  6. Sonata No. 2 (1916) Nikolai Roslavets 13:36
  7. Five Preludes Nikolai Roslavets

  8. No. 1 Andante affettuoso (1919) 1:21
  9. No. 2 Allegretto con moto (1919) 2:07
  10. No. 3 Lento (1920) 2:08
  11. No. 4 Lento (1922) 1:40
  12. No. 5 Lento rubato (1922) 2:07
  13. Sonata No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 3 Aleksandr Mosolov 11:51
  14. 3 Pieces & 2 Dances, Op. 23a Aleksandr Mosolov

  15. No. II :40
  16. No. III :44
  17. Ereignis VII Leonid Polovinkin

  18. I: Pressentiment, Andante tranquillo 1:28
  19. II: L'Action, moto tranquillo 2:19
  20. III: Souvenir, Allegro 1:50
  21. Music for Children Vladamir Rebikov

  22. Preparing the Lesson :53
  23. Strolling Musicians 1:07
  24. Dance of the Little Ones :47
  25. Cradle Song :58
  26. The Lame Witch Roaming the Forest 1:14
  27. The Bear :41
  28. In the Forest :35
  29. 3 Pieces from Melomimiques, Op. 15 (1889) Vladamir Rebikov

  30. The Devil's Amusement :55
  31. The Faun 2:11
  32. In the Forest 1:56
  33. Revelation (1915) Nikolai Obukhov

  34. The Tolling from Beyond 1:50
  35. Death 1:18
  36. The Void 3:09
  37. Immortal 2:42
  38. The Distress of Satan :35
  39. Truth 1:15
  40. Two Pieces Nikolai Obukhov

  41. The Temple is Measured: The Spirit is Incarnate 3:00
  42. Peace for the Reconciled: Towards the Source of the Chalice 3:45


Where to buy

Russian Rarities is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Spotify and Apple Music.

Russian Rarities is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
Total playing time
155 minutes 30 seconds
Benjamin Thomas
Kim Wilson
Michael Grafton-Green
Martin Wright
Llewellyn Hall (tracks 1—13)
Thanks to
Australian National University
Release date
© 2010 Move Records
℗ 2010 Move Records
Classical, Keyboard
Catalogue number
MD 3328
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574332827