Steven Osborne (piano)
Here is an exhilarating disc that will get your feet tapping! Nikolai Kapustin (born 1937) studied the piano at the Moscow Conservatoire with Alexander Goldenweiser, and is a prolific composer, especially for his own instrument. His style is a fascinating and distinctive blend of classical and jazz styles, as he expounds his jazz-based melodic and rhythmic ideas within the structures of classical sonata form. The jazz influence is of course nothing new: many composers, including Ravel and Poulenc, have incorporated jazz elements in their work, but whereas their music makes occasional and relatively superficial reference to jazz, Kapustin's is unthinkable without it.
The first two piano sonatas (he has so far written ten) both date from 1989, and display a deep merging of disparate stylistic elements tempered by a careful control of structure. The hallmarks of Kapustin's style are evident throughout: the scintillating virtuosity and jazz-influenced syncopations, with the occasional walking bass and doses of swing, boogie-woogie, and the raw energy of Art Tatum. The Preludes also present a great variety of jazz styles, including blues, ballad, jazz waltz, swing and a hint of jazz funk.
Steven Osborne is one of the most exciting young British pianists, and the jazz idiom is wholly natural to him. Having discovered this wonderful music, he has managed to get hold of many rare scores and manuscripts from Russia (some from the composer himself) in order to make this recording. The result is a revelation, and one you'll undoubtedly want to play to your friends.