• chrisdumigan

Nikita Koshkin : The Well-Tempered Koshkin : CD



KOSHKIN: The Elves Suite; Parade; Three Stations on One Road; The Ballads; Three Pieces for Two Guitars; Romance; Cambridge Suite for Two Guitars; Let’s Play Together for three guitars .

Nikita Koshkin (with Frank Koonce, and Judicael Perroy)

Soundset: SR1015

Nikita Koshkin is surely one of the world’s most famous guitarist composers. His music from the outset has been very different to anyone else’s without being too unusual, so that it frightens more people than it delights. Over the years many varied pieces of all manner of size and shape have come from his pen and here in this CD is a recording of some of the most interesting solo pieces, as well as two for two guitars, and one for three guitars.

The opening Elves Suite is in five short movements, and is immediately quirky, with lots of sounds that are there to delight and make you smile, as they are deliberately odd, in the nicest sense of the word. So the opening Gavotte has some ‘wrong’ notes that immediately bring the comic element of the Elves to mind. After a deliberately awkward Waltz, comes the March, a dark – hued affair, and then Melody which is perhaps the most normal of the set, in that it has a beautiful tune with romantic harmonies that provide a complete contrast to the previous .Finally the suite closes with a racing Gallop that takes us back to the comic, and outlandish style of the first three movements, with its crunchy harmonies and unexpected moments and a humorous final cadence. A good start!

Parade is in swing rhythm and has jazz elements in its harmonies and feel, and is a great listen, and in complete contrast in style to the Elves Suite.

Three Stations, One Road is a, beautiful piece of writing that has a serious opening, before suddenly turning very jazz – like a little way in, with glissandi, note bends, and deliberately unusual writing. Gradually everything gets more frenetic until the player is doing heavy strums and it is all really getting exciting. Then, there is a complete stop, and the sad, thoughtful style returns now laced with some jazz harmonies, and a quiet coda brings the piece to a close.

The five Ballads are pieces that sound like they should be songs and have words and as a result, the music is at times very complex, full of fast moving runs alongside some beautiful melodies and harmonies. The whole set is one that if you haven’t come across it, I encourage you to hear, because it is really excellent as a set of pieces and deserves to be even better known than it is.

The first of the Three Pieces for two guitars sends us back into rather grotesque country, with Puppet, where the minor seconds crunching and clashing against one another, together with glissando chords and the staccato moments aptly convey the puppet concerned. Elegy is in complete contrast, but still with some unusual sounds and chord progressions that keep you on your toes. They Are Coming is full of the same almost cartoon character style of theme and harmonies where, whatever it is that is coming is about to cause some mischief and upset people! The whole suite is beautifully played and lots of fun throughout.

Romance, a solo piece, is, as the title suggests, warm and romantic, with lonely harmonies and some beautiful moments.

The five – movement Cambridge Suite for two players begins quietly with a Lullaby that has nicely unusual harmonies and a very restful sound. Tennis Waltz is next, and is odd, and funny and full of strange music, whilst Ragtime is as the title suggests full of Koshkin’s musical version of a ragtime, and again great fun, and never goes where you think it will. The fourth movement Ballad is a little dark, and sad as it stumbles along its way, with its individual sounds and part writing. A suitably up – tempo Humoresque closes the suite in a humorous fashion, with music to make you smile.

The final very short Let’s Play Together is for three guitars and finishes the CD in a bizarre but very well – crafted way with music that could only be Koshkin’s; so individual is his style of writing throughout this CD

This is like nothing else you will have come across before, if you don’t already know his pieces, but everything is excellently played, and nothing is so bizarre that it will frighten away any listeners who don’t like their music modern. It is fun music, well recorded, and just shows that if any film maker wanted his cartoon to have a soundtrack to it, then Nikita Koshkin’s music would be an ideal choice!


Chris Dumigan





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