The music of Russian composer Anton Arensky fell into obscurity soon after his death in 1906, due in part to the crushing verdict of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov that "he will soon be forgotten," and in part to the more general favor progressive music enjoyed. But his chamber music has gotten renewed exposure as Western-oriented Russian music has gotten a new look. Arensky was definitely on the conservative side, and this collection of short piano pieces is especially so, rooted firmly in the strip running from Chopin to Rubinstein. Yet it isn't quite derivative, and much of the music here has a sort of sturdy pianistic appeal. The main novel feature is the incorporation of real Lisztian virtuosity into the short etude and esquisse ("sketch," contrary to the online services that have translated the word as "study") forms. The later set of Etudes, Op. 74 (from 1905) and the Esquisses, Op. 52 ("Près de la mer," or At the Seaside) are the most elegant in this regard. American pianist Adam Neiman, a graduate of the Juilliard School and likely a product of a line of Russian pedagogy that came straight down from Arensky's milieu, is admirably equipped for the task of rendering these tough little pieces with smoothness, confidence, and flair. Those who have found creative passion missing from Arensky's music will not be persuaded by these pieces, but they could fit on any number of recitals and are especially commended to student pianists.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|6 Pièces, Op. 53|
|4 Etudes, Op. 41|
|12 Etudes, Op. 74|
|6 Esquisses, "Près de la mer", Op. 52|