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Alexander Alexandrovich Alyabiev (1787-1851) is beyond any doubt the greatest Russian Musician of his generation (before Glinka). Why, then is he not known better ? Well...his life reads like a novel ; an officer with the imperial army, he was contaminated by liberal ideas in Paris in 1812 and got close to the Decembrist's movement, which got him condemned in the 20ies and deported to Siberia a few years later. He there mixes and confronts Caucasian and « white » music (several decades before Borodin espouses the idea) and finally gets back to Moscow in 1843, in pretty poor health.
His famous romance, The Lark, which was later popularised by the variations by Glinka, Liszt and Vieuxtemps was actually written while he was in jail. But this very lark hides an astounding number of other achievements: 5 Operas, 23 Vaudevilles, Symphonic music, Chamber music (long ago lovingly recorded by the Beethoven Quartet) and piano scores.
So where to start? Why not by this very beautiful symphonic programme, played by today's best Russian chamber orchestra and its conductor, the superb cellist Alexander Rudin? We discover a very personal, inventive composer, reminiscent of young Schubert who clearly deserves better than his current fate!

10/10 Classics Today award