Yvar Mikhashoff


mode 154

Virtuoso Opera Fantasies, Paraphrases & Transcriptions


mode 154/155 Yvar MIKHASHOFF: Opera — Virtuoso Fantasies, Paraphrases and Transcriptions of Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, Berg, Debussy, Bussotti and Volans. (2-CDs)

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Virtuoso Opera Fantasies, Paraphrases & Transcriptions

Yvar Mikhashoff, piano

CD 1: The Traditional
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Trittico Fantasy (Fantasia on Themes from Il Trittico)   (17:01)
I.  Barcarola
II.  Canzone degli scaricatori
III.  Valzer dell’organetto
IV.  Intermezzo
V.   Aria “Senza Mamma”
VI.  Passo
VII.  Romanza “O mio babbino caro”
Dedicated with much affection to Sylvano Bussotti
(Final copy, 21:50, June 1, 1991, Buffalo, NY)

Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
Casta Diva from Norma   (8:13)
Aria (Norma sola)
Aria Variata
(Buffalo, Sept 1, 1991)

Giuseppi Verdi (1813-1903)
Introduction & Aria: “Caro Nome” from Rigoletto (1976-1991)   (7:20)

Giacomo Puccini
Vissi d’Arte, Aria from Act 2 of Tosca   (4:53)
Dedicated with affection and admiration to my dear friend Haydée Schvartz
(Amsterdam, May 19, 1991)

Giacomo Puccini
Portrait of “Madame Butterfly”
An operatic sonata-fantasy on themes of Puccini in 4 parts   (14:00)
Scherzo: Flower Duet
(Aloft NY-London, 7 am GMT, May 27, 1992)

CD 2: The Modern
Claude Debussy (1813-1903)
Intermezzo & Final Scene from Pelléas et Mélisande (1992)   (9:48)

Alban Berg (1885-1935)
Wirtshauswalzer from Wozzeck   (2:21)

Sylvano Bussotti (b.1931)
Pianobar pour Phèdre from Le Racine   (12:33)
Passo: “La Romanza al Sol” – Prelude – Coda
(Breukelen, June 13, 1981)

Kevin Volans (b.1949)
Striding Dance from The Man with the Footsoles of Wind   (5:00)
(London, July 15, 1992)

Piano transcriptions of some of the most beautiful music ever written!

Yvar Mikhashoff’s inspiration to make opera transcriptions in the grand style of Liszt came from none other than John Cage. Cage’s Europera 5, written for Mikhashoff in 1991, required him to play six operatic excerpts at the piano, each a specified length with certain dynamic requirements. Finding appropriate transcriptions in the existing repertoire was difficult, and so Mikhashoff eventually decided to draw on his experience as an opera and lieder coach in Austria to experiment with arias he knew and loved.

A piano virtuoso, Mikhashoff performs premiere recordings of his own transcriptions from opera composers who lived in the 20th century, adding a major body of attractive, important new virtuoso piano works to the literature.

Casta Diva from Norma (Bellini), is transcribed in a Chopin-esque style – appropriate since Bellini and Chopin were close friends.

Introduction and Aria: Caro Nome (Verdi) is a fantasy portrait of Gilda, the ill-fated heroine of Rigoletto.

Portrait of Madame Butterfly (Puccini) preserves the high drama of the opera – including the Humming Chorus and the Flower Duet – in a very elaborate rewriting that demands the highest degree of virtuosity.

Pélleas et Mélisande (Debussy) is largely drawn from the orchestral interlude which separates the second and third scenes of Act IV and from the conclusion of the opera’s fifth act. These final pages are some of the most touching Debussy ever composed and Mikhashoff has confined his reworking to some delicate touches of decorative arpeggiation and voicing.

Wirtshauswalzer from Wozzeck (Berg) is played by the small off-stage band in the beer garden scene. It combines pure German waltz style with Bergian harmonies.

Vissi d’Arte from Tosca (Puccini), is the unforgettable aria sung by Tosca as she reflects on her life (“I lived for art…”). Here Puccini’s music is barely altered – the vocal and instrumental parts combine perfectly.

Trittico Fantasy (Puccini) begins with a set of short reminiscences from Il Tabarro, then moves on to the “Senza Mamma” from Suor Angelica and finally to “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicci.

Bussotti wrote his opera La Racine (premiered at La Scala in 1981) for Mikhashoff – a tour de force as he was onstage as the pianist for the work’s 2-hour performance, and was one of the few instruments in the opera’s orchestration. Pianobar is a transcription combining the voices and piano music into a 7-movement suite.

Striding Dance comes from Volan’s opera The Man with the Footsoles of Wind, about the last days of Arthur Rimbaud in Africa and his return and death in France. Mikhashoff completed the transcription under the direct supervision of the composer.


Yvar Mikhashoff
OPERA – Virtuoso Fantasies, Paraphrases and Transcriptions

performed by pianist Yvar Mikhashoff
Mode 154 (2CDs)

Troy’s Mikhashoff legacy

In the world of composers and new music specialists, the name YvarMikhashoff still holds an allure and respect though the pianist died fromAIDS nearly 13 years ago. A more familiar name in the Capital Region mightbe Ronald Mackey. That’s how Mikhashoff was christened when he was born inTroy in 1941. But a name like Ronald Mackey just didn’t match the man’sbreadth of talent, creativity and accomplishment.

A composer as well as a pianist, Mikhashoff worked closely with scadsof composers including John Cage, Toru Takemitsu and Otto Luening. Heconcertized around the globe and was on the faculty of the University atBuffalo, where his voluminous archives are housed. Today a small foundationto support new music carries his name.

The Mode record label is preserving his legacy with its EditionMikhashoff series. The newest title “Opera: Virtuoso Fantasies, Paraphrasesand Transcriptions” displays many of the Mikhashoff’s gifts. There’s thesheer hard work – 90 minutes of music written and recorded in a two-yearperiod – and the joy in collaboration, since many of the pieces were firstconceived as a contribution to Cage’s “Europera 5.” The tributes to Puccini,Bellini and Verdi, as well as Debussy and Berg, also evidence Mikhashoff’sprofligate embrace of contrasting styles and eras.

Above all, there’s Mikhashoff’s heartfelt musicality and virtuosotechnique. No where is this more present than in the “Trittico Fantasy,”which serves up lush bits of Puccini and ends with the crushingly beautiful”O mio babbino caro.”
— Joseph Dalton, Times Union, Albany, N.Y., Sunday, March 5, 2006

Yvar Mikhashoff
OPERA – Virtuoso Fantasies, Paraphrases and Transcriptions

performed by pianist Yvar Mikhashoff
Mode 154 (2CDs)

There was never anyone like pianist Yvar Mikhashoff on Buffalo’s music scene before 1973 and there is never likely to be again. He died in 1993 at the age of 52, after two decades of teaching at the University of Buffalo and treating Buffalo audiences to some of the least likely and most idiosyncratically virtuosic piano music imaginable. A new music specialist, he was led to Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases a la Franz Liszt by John Cage, of all people, whose piece for Mikhashoff “Europera 5” required him to play 6 operatic excerpts (three of them in a Cageian “silence.”) That led to a couple years of these amazing Mikhashoff paraphrases of operas by Puccini, Bellini, Verdi, Debussy, Berg and, in his most frequented territory, Busotti and Volans. So here, on two discs, is 80 remarkable minutes of them, recorded all over the world (including Buffalo) and full of miasmic beauty, declamatory virtuosity and no small lunacy. There’s nothing else quite like them.
— Jeff Simon, Buffalo News, Feb.12, 2006


Also by Yvar Mikhashoff on Mode Records:
John CAGE: Europera 5 – world premiere performance (mode 36)
  Alvin CURRAN: Piano Works (mode 49)

Yvar Mikhashoff profile

The Yvar Mikhashoff Trust  web site