Nikolaus Lahusen - Das Vermächtnis

Als Nikolaus Lahusen im Mai 2005 nach langer Krankheit, aber für viele Weggefährten gänzlich überraschend starb, standen die Vorbereitungen zur Veröffentlichung seiner Mussorgsky-Einspielung gerade vor dem Abschluß - so wird diese CD nun zum künstlerischen Vermächtnis des brillanten Pianisten. Mussorgsky hatte ein klar definiertes und anschaulich umschriebenes Selbstverständnis: "Die feinsten Züge der menschlichen Natur und der Menschenmassen - das unentwegte Beackern dieses wenig erforschten Landes und seine Eroberung, das ist die wahre Sendung des Künstlers", schrieb Mussorgsky einmal an Stasov. Für Lahusen, der in Bremen geboren wurde und in Mexiko aufwuchs, kam die Auseinandersetzung mit einem Komponisten und seinem Oeuvre der Ergründung einer neuen Welt, dem Erlernen einer neuen Sprache gleich. Es ist das immer neue Zusammenwirken von Entdeckergeist, intellektueller Offenheit und Wagemut, was Nikolaus Lahusen auszeichnet und ihm das große, in seltener Weise einhellige Lob der Fachwelt eintrug - ganz gleich, ob er nun Schubert auf dem Hammerflügel spielte oder Ciurlionis´ Weltsicht nachspürte. Hinzu kam, daß er gleich in mehrfacher Hinsicht begnadet war und "neben einer brillanten Technik eine ungewöhnlich tiefe Musikalität mit direkt ansprechendem Charisma" verband, wie sein wichtiger Impulsgeber Christoph Eschenbach bereits 1996 festhielt. All dies läßt sich an Lahusens Interpretation der Bilder einer Ausstellung festmachen: Farbenreichtum und Bildhaftigkeit des Werkes treten mit großer Plastizität und Intensität hervor, sensibel lotet Lahusen den Facettenreichtum des von einer Gedenkausstellung für Viktor Hartmann inspirierten Klavierzyklus' aus, wobei er den Hörer stets ganz unmittelbar anspricht. Kein Zweifel: Nikolaus Lahusen hat ein weiteres Land erforscht und beherrscht dessen Sprache souverän.

the project

Beauty is found in Life. Reality stands above Art. This idea, proposed by Nikolai Chernyshevsky in his Æesthetic Relations of Art to Reality (1855), became a manifesto of sorts in the artistic circles of Czarist Russia in the second half of the 19th century. Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) was most enthusiastc in adopting the precepts of Chernyshevsky. Most of his works— and the piano pieces especially—are descriptions of moments and situations from everyday life.

Recorded at Radio Bremen’s concert hall, as a co-production between Celestial Harmonies and Radio Bremen, this is the last recording by Nikolaus Lahusen prior to his untimely death on May 15, 2005, at the age of 44. It features a Hamburg Steinway piano that he had selected for himself and had shipped to Radio Bremen’s concert hall.

In the beginning of the 1870s Mussorgsky had gotten to know the painter and architect Viktor Hartmann. But Hartmann, who was not yet 40, died in 1873 from heart disease, and Mussorgksy was devastated. The influential art critic and essayist, Vladimir Stassov, initiated a memorial exhibition where 400 of Hartmann’s works were shown. This exhibition inspired Mussorgsky to write a suite for solo piano, with each movement based on Hartmann’s paintings.

Pictures At An Exhibition has inspired many composers and arrangers to orchestrate the suite; and for many listeners around the world, accustomed to Maurice Ravel’s famous orchestral version, the idea that Pictures At An Exhibition was originally a piano work will come as a surprise. Leopold Stokowski and Vladimir Ashkenazy have also clothed the work in full orchestral garb, and numerous arrangements for brass choir, organs, guitars and synthesizers exist, too. But the original piano version still has its own fascination, and arguably allows more room for the listener’s own interpretation.

Whereas Pictures At An Exhibition is a piano work that became successful in a variety of orchestral versions, the reverse is true for St. John’s Night on the Bare Mountain which was originally an orchestral piece. Lahusen plays here the piano version by Konstantin Cernov.

the artist

Nikolaus Lahusen was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1960 and grew up in Mexico. His artistic development was supported by Edith Picht-Axenfeld, Christoph Eschenbach and Bruno Leonardo Gelber.

Counted among the leading pianists of his generation, Lahusen gave concerts worldwide in some of the finest concert halls (Philharmonie in Munich, Musikhalle in Hamburg, Beethovenhalle in Bonn, etc.) and worked with leading orchestras.

During a period of eleven years, Lahusen worked with Celestial Harmonies on eight recordings:

Orff-Schulwerk, Vol. 3: Piano Music (13106-2), The Complete Piano Music of M.K. Ciurlionis, Vols. 1-3 (13184-2, 13185-2 & 13222-2), Franz Schubert Sonata B Flat Major D. 960, 3 Klavierstücke D. 946 (13195-2), Franz Schubert Sonata D Major D. 850, 34 Valses Sentimentales D. 779 (13221-2), Franz Liszt Transcriptions of Franz Schubert Songs (13228-2) and this, his final recording.

International radio and television stations have broadcast his concerts and recordings; his numerous recordings have been well received among music critics.

On Whitsunday, May 15th, 2005, Nikolaus Lahusen passed away after having fought cancer since 1998. This recording is his last. Because of his illness, he went through two periods where he was unable to perform. “But his attitude, “ company president Eckart Rahn says, “was always forward-looking and positive. He added much to my life and work.”

biography

discography

Der Schallplattenmann sagt

tracklist

  PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION (1874) 35'59"
1. Promenade 1'21"
  Allegro giusto, nel modo russico, senza allegrezza, ma poco sostenuto  
2 Gnomus 2'45"
  Sempre vivo  
3 Promenade 2 / Intermezzo 0'56"
  Moderato commodo assai e con delicatezza  
4 Il vecchio castello / The old castle 4'44"
  Andantino molto cantabile e con dolore  
5 Promenade 3 0'34"
  Moderato non tanto, pesamente  
6 Tuileries (Dispute d'enfants après jeux) / Dispute between children at play  
  Allegro non troppo, capriccioso 1'08"
7 Bydlo / Cattle 3'39"
  Sempre moderato, pesante  
8 Promenade 4 0'59"
  Tranquillo  
9 Balet nevylupivshikhsva ptentsov / Ballet of the unhatched chicks  
  Scherzino vivo, leggiero 1'20"
10 Samuel Goldenburg und Schmuyle 2'22"
  Andante, Grave-energico  
11 Promenade 5 1'24"
  Allegro giusto, nel modo russico, poco sostenuto  
12 Limoges 1'34"
  Le marche (La grande nouvelle / The Market (The big news)  
  Allegretto vivo, sempre scherzando  
13 Catacombae (Sepulcrum romanum) 1'54"
  Largo - attaca  
  Con mortuis in lingua mortua / With the dead in a dead language  
  Andante non troppo, con lamento 2'20"
14 Izbushka na kurikh nozhkakh (Baba-Yaga) / The Hut on Hen's Leg (Baba-Yaga) 3'44"
  Allegro con brio, feroce  
15 Bogatyrskie vorota (vo stol'nom gorode vo Kieve) / The Knight's gate (in the ancient capital, Kiev) 5'13"
  Allegro alla breve. Maestoso. Con grandezza  
16 UNE LARME (A tear) (1880) 4'03"
17 MEDITATION [Album leaf] (1880) 4'31"
18 INTERMEZZO IN MODO CLASSICO (1860) 7'06"
19 HOPAK [from Sorochintsy Fair] 1'54"
20 (ST. JOHN'S) NIGHT ON THE BARE MOUNTAIN (1867) 13'31"
  [arr. Konstantin Cernov]  
  Total Time: 68'10"