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Rachfan - Georgy Catoire Quatre Morceaux: Meditation 12/2: Message Board

Rachfan's Comments

Georges Catoire (1861-1926) was a late romantic Russian-born composer of French lineage. He was also a pianist and professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory, having studied piano with Karl Klindworth and composition with Otto Tirsch, Philip Rufer, and Anatol Liadov. Catoire’s music is nearly unknown today for several reasons: 1) He did not play or promote his compositions in recitals. 2) Catoire had been black-balled in the Moscow music scene by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov due to his advocacy for Richard Wagner and his music. 3) After the Bolshevik Revolution, Catoire’s music was ignored by the Soviet Ministry of Culture, as its late romantic character did nothing to extol socialism; nor were his scores reprinted in Russia again except for a single volume in 1928 now out of print. 4) Virtually all of his piano music is difficult to play well. Thus, immediately after his death in 1926, it was as if the composer’s music fell into an abyss, although Alexander Goldenweiser and David Oistrachk performed it occasionally. The traces of influence found in Catoire’s music are from Wagner, early Scriabin, and Faure, although his idiom is most original.

Piano: My Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6'3")

David April

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Name Date Comment
Rachfan 2010-08-22 22:22:12 Thanks, canonie, for that compliment! David
canonie 2010-08-22 19:07:36 David, you have a beautiful flowing sense of rhythm, a perfectly balanced dance.
Rachfan 2010-08-22 16:49:20 Hi SlatterFan,

Along with Wagner and Scriabin, Faure was definitely an influence on on Catoire. It's important to remember that although Catoire was born a Russian, his heritage was French. (His parents had gone to Moscow to establish a business there.) I have no doubt that when Catoire was growing up, his parents made sure that he gained a thorough appreciation for French culture. So you could be correct in the connection you draw. And you're right--I do have a close affinity to Catoire's music. It comes very naturally to me somehow, I believe more by instinct than anything else.

SlatterFan 2010-08-22 16:29:00 I am strangely reminded of Fauré's last Valse-Caprice, both in the main theme and the flowing patterns in the RH in the middle. Of course the Fauré is very relaxed but the Catoire is very different. Takes something familiar as a basis then gives it a dark twist away from the expected/common and explores where this takes him; that's my feel as I get to know these pieces through your recordings. I definitely get the sense you have a close affinity with this music.
Rachfan 2010-08-21 22:34:07 Hi Heidi,

Thanks for that. I can't explain it exactly, but when I get into one of Catoire's pieces, somehow I sense the mood he felt and was trying to convey through his score. It doesn't seem to come to me by perception or objective analysis, but more from pure instinct. Once it's apparent, that becomes the basis of my interpretation, and then I rely on my own mental imagery from similar life experiences as I try to recreate Catoire's intent in my playing. Since the beginning, I've always felt a close affinity to this composer even though he died well before I was born and was unknown to me until fairly recently. Technique has a role in playing Catoire, but the emotional content in this ultra-romantic music is nearly everything.

heidiv 2010-08-21 20:01:58 "Agonizing mental deliberation" indeed! It certainly comes across in your playing. Listening is like looking inside the tortured mind. Nicely done!
Rachfan 2010-08-20 22:07:42 Hi Sorcerer,

Yes, when we think of meditation, something like Massenett's "Mediation on Thais" comes to mind. Catoire's meditation is seemingly not one of gentle reflections. Instead it is an agonizing mental deliberation with questions, inner doubts, regrets, and much searching. Thanks for your compliment on my playing!

Sorcerer88 2010-08-20 20:35:00 Quite a peculiar piece, and getting pretty intense for a meditation ;) very musical playing!