Sergei Babayan Releases his First Solo Album on Deutsche Grammophon
Sergei Babayan has released his first solo album on Deutsche Grammophon, Rachmaninoff – Preludes – Etudes Tableaux – Moments. The album is a love letter from Babayan to Rachmaninoff, the composer, conductor and virtuoso pianist who inspired and influenced the Armenian-born Babayan from an early age.
The album presents a selection of works including Études-Tableaux, Preludes, Moments Musicaux and song transcriptions. This thrilling recording was BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month, the publication was impressed with his “astute programming” and “utterly compelling musical experience.”
Babayan signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 2018. His first album for the label – Prokofiev for Two, was a duo partnership with Martha Argerich, and is comprised of Babayan’s own transcriptions for two pianos of movements from Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and other works.
“There’s some extraordinary playing on this beautifully recorded disc. The Armenian-born American pianist Sergei Babayan exhibits a profound empathy for Rachmaninov’s music, revelling in its richness of sonority, its contrasting moods of elation and melancholy and its structural fluidity….He can be intimate and reflective, mesmerising the listener with the shimmering sounds of the famous G sharp minor Prelude Op. 32, the veiled almost Debussy-like sonorities of the A minor Etude-Tableau Op. 39 with its obsessive allusions to the fateful Dies Irae motive, or the doom-laden echoes of Russian Orthodox Church Music in the B minor Prelude Op. 32. Yet Babayan is equally spellbinding at the opposite end of the dynamic spectrum, as in the whirlwind passage work of the F minor Prelude Op. 32 or in the E flat minor Etude-Tableau Op. 39 where he unleashes a veritable torrent of sound which manages to emulate the depth and grandeur of a full symphony orchestra.”
BBC Music Magazine
“Babayan’s playing, from the tiny, 52-second Morceau de fantaisie in g minor to the stormy Étude-Tableau in e-flat, Op. 39/5, from the chordal B-minor Prelude to the tintinnabular Moment Musical in C, Op. 16/6 that ends the program, is endlessly expressive, his tone full of purpose and control, and his textures marvelously clear. In the liner notes, Babayan says, “Only a composer of the highest gifts can have a craftsmanship of the level where music sounds like an improvisation, born spontaneously.” And it takes a pianist of signal accomplishments to put those characteristics across to the listener. Some sources have speculated that Babayan’s proximity to Argerich and Trifonov inspired the release of the current album. But his playing can eloquently speak for itself. You have to wonder if any other Babayan treasures are languishing in DG’s vault.”