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We met on a train high in the Swiss Alps in 2005 whilst travelling to the same music festival and quickly realised we both studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama but had never met. Soon after returning to school in September we began playing together, starting characteristically ambitiously with the dark and swooning Rachmaninov Sonata. Since then, we have worked through much of the core repertoire, as well as an enormous number of tea bags and wine bottles.   We both have an affi nity for Russian music. Luba is currently researching a PhD based around Weinberg, and I specialise in the music of Scriabin, completing my Doctorate fi ve years ago; my recording of Scriabin’s late piano music was released by Odradek in 2018. We also share a desire to bring overlooked composers into the public consciousness. This recording explores the connections between lesser-known composers who were a key part of the fabric of musical culture in Russia and the Soviet Union during two periods of great tension and confl ict: the 1917 Revolution and the Second World War.   Recording this repertoire in 2022 has become a more complex issue than we could ever have imagined. The ongoing war in Ukraine has created a diffi cult and complex atmosphere for Russian music and musicians alike, with some venues and competitions excluding and avoiding Russian performers and repertoire altogether. For us, banning music based on its heritage is counterintuitive and does more harm than good. At this time we need to harness every last bit of music’s power to rise above differences; to bring people together, to cross cultural, political, and social divides, and to bring solace and hope to all adversely affected by a barbaric and unnecessary war.   All of the composers we have recorded experienced the reality of war and revolution, as well as the hardship of living within a strict and unforgiving regime. In these bleak and seemingly hopeless times, music and musicians endured; from ruins rose great art of immense power and beauty and with it the hope that all is not lost. Decades of mounting political and social tensions preceded the 1917 Russian Revolution. The emancipation of the serfs in 1861, the attempted revolution of 1905, and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 gradually increased the pressure to breaking point. None could have avoided the tense and uneasy atmosphere, nor the explosion of violent change that followed. The response from composers was varied. Some turned to folk music as a way of holding on to their roots; some explored new sounds and extremes within Neoclassicism; and others produced works nostalgic of a lost Romanticism.


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