Eshpai Edition, Vol. 1
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An exciting introduction to a master of color and excitement.

You are probably thinking, with the reputation of Albany Records for American music and composers, what are we doing introducing a series of recordings devoted to the music of Andrei Eshpai? The answer is simple. For the same reason we have so much of the English composer George Lloyd's music in our catalogue. He is a good composer who is under-represented in the catalogue as a whole. In short, we think his music is terrific and will appeal to a large audience if only they have a chance to hear it. So we are going to give you the chance. Besides, as with George Lloyd, here in Albany, we have had a special relationship with Mr. Eshpai. In February 1992, he was here in Albany when the Albany Symphony Orchestra performed his Concerto For Orchestra. From that time on, we have maintained close contact so much so that the master tapes from which this series of recordings will be drawn have been supplied to us directly by the Eshpai family. So, there will be many treasures to come. Andre Eshpai was born on May 15, 1925 in the ancient city of Kozmodemynsk on the Volga River in the autonomous republic of Mari of the RSFSR. His father, Yakov Andreevich Eshpai (1890-1963), was one of Mari's first professional composers. He was also a choral conductor, folklorist and educator. He composed the first Mari instrumental works, collected the folksongs of his region, and for many years was on the faculty of the Mari National Institute of Language, Literature and History in Ioshkar-Ola (the capital of the Mari Republic). The Eshpai home was a gathering place for many creative individuals - musicians, artists, writers and other intellectuals. It was in this enriching environment that Andrei grew up. In 1928 the family moved to Moscow where his father attended the Conservatory and his mother the Moscow Pedagogical Institute. Soon young Andrei began taking music lessons as well. He studied at Gnessin from 1934 to 1941. He served in the Soviet Army from 1943-1946. When he got out, he returned to the Moscow Conservatory where he studied the piano and composition with Miaskovsky and Orchestration with Nicolai Rakov. He graduated in 1953 and then entered the post graduate program with Aram Khachaturian. Today, he is the President of the Russian Author's Society (the equivalent of our ASCAP or BMI). The music of this fine composer should have a wide appeal.
Contents:
Andrei Eshpai, composer
Symphonic Dances on Mari Themes
All-Union Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra, Leonid Nikolaev, conductor

Andrei Eshpai, composer
Concerto No. 4 for Violin & Orchestra
Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg Cappella, Jennifer Koh, violin

Andrei Eshpai, composer
Symphony No. 2 "Praise to Light"
USSR Large Symphony Orchestra, Konstanin Ivanov, conductor

Review:
"Until recently, all most of us knew of 20th-Century Soviet music was Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Prokofieff, and Kabalevsky. Everything else was supposedly dreary-folksy "Socialist Realism," about the most a Russian composer could hope to attain when the most recent developments in music were officially condemned. Surely there were some other Soviet composers who wrote music worth hearing? Here's one. Andrei Eshpai (b. 1925) is an important figure in his homeland, and his music is not exactly unknown outside of it...The three works are all appreciably different from each other. The 1952 Symphonic Dances might have been written in 1922 - or 1892. It's a conservative but colorful score in the good old Russian style...I was most pleasantly surprised by the 1962 Symphony, whose subtitle and provenance suggested something in the noodly-ecstatic mode of Hovhaness. This is an uneven work, but the first and last movements are exciting, and the utterly simple II, an Andante dolente lullaby of single lines of melody against a harp accompaniment, is magical." (American Record Guide)
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