“In Search of Stravinsky’s Piano Teacher: Leokadiya Kashperova”
Oxana Shevchenko, piano
& Dr Graham Griffiths, City University of London
In keeping with the activist/architect theme of Bloomsbury 2018 this innovative lecture-recital invites the audience to consider Igor Stravinsky as the activist and, surprising as it may seem, to consider his piano teacher Leokadiya Kashperova as the architect behind those famously enigmatic compositions for solo piano composed in the 1920s in Stravinsky’s most challenging, and beguiling, neoclassical style.
Since publishing Stravinsky’s Piano: Genesis of a Musical Language (Cambridge University Press, 2013) Graham Griffiths of City University of London has been searching tirelessly in Russian archives, bringing to light one of the most exciting ‘forgotten composers’ to be uncovered in recent years. Kashperova’s Symphony in B minor (1905) was featured to great acclaim in this year’s BBC Radio 3 / AHRC celebration for International Women’s Day; and Stravinsky himself paid rare tribute to her teaching in his Autobiography (1936). Even in Russia, as Griffiths discovered, her name and her music have been erased from history. In 2018 with the collaboration of Boosey & Hawkes (famously supportive of Russian composers including Rakhmaninov, Prokofiev and Stravinsky) many of Kashperova’s fine Romantic compositions are to be re-published, including two cello sonatas, choral works, her piano suite In the Midst of Nature, and her impressive Symphony. Griffiths’s lecture will include recorded excerpts from all of these works.
In Part 2, the internationally-renowned Russian pianist Oxana Shevchenko will present a rare recital entirely of Stravinsky’s piano works including his neoclassical masterpieces Sonate pour piano, Les cinq doigts and Sérénade en la. Their particular ‘technicity’ and their neoclassical lines, Griffiths will argue, could not have been drawn without Stravinsky’s enthusiasm for the specific methodology laid out by his remarkable teacher.
Oxana Shevchenko is familiar to British audiences since winning the 2010 Scottish International Piano Competition and, the following year, the Accompanists Prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. She has since been a prize-winner at competitions across Europe and Asia. Oxana has recently recorded The Complete Stravinsky Piano Music (Delphian) and has chosen to end her recital with Three Movements from Petrushka, Stravinsky’s most dazzling and most difficult work for solo piano. Based on his famous ballet written in 1911 for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, it features ‘The Russian Dance’, ‘Petrushka’s Room’, and, bringing the recital to a thrilling and noisy conclusion, ‘The Shrovetide Fair’.