Igor Raykhelson

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Igor Raykhelson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3

Paul Ballyk, Expedition Audio

The two concertos dating from 2007 and 2010 on this Toccata Classics CD sound, for the most part, as though they could have been written over a century ago. The music is by the Russian born American classical and jazz pianist and composer Igor Raykhelson. It is the third release of the composer's orchestral music on Toccata and contains Mr. Raykhelson's concerto for piano and his concerto for cello. The Russian State Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Hobart Earle and the soloists are Boris Berezovsky, piano and Alexander Kniazev, cello. 


Igor Raykhelson's early career was as a highly successful jazz pianist. There is certainly an audible jazz influence in his music, but overall, the composer has clearly embraced traditional classical forms and harmonies, producing music of unabashed Romanticism. I was most often reminded of Rachmaninov, but the influences of Prokofiev and Shostakovich are also present. The jazz facet of Raykhelson's background can be heard in sections reminiscent of Gershwin and Bernstein, especially in his harmonies. However, these jazz influences act to expand and to enhance the musical vocabulary of this fine classical composer. Mr. Raykhelson's explains himself: "Jazz has a lot to give in terms of harmonic language which, combined with melodic material and romantic music, is very enriching." 


The sample in the right sidebar for you to hear is the final Allegro moderato movement (the fourth - both concertos are in four movements rather than the traditional three) of the Piano Concerto in G minor (2007). It is thoroughly representative of all the music on the album. You can also hear a performance of Raykhelson Adagio performed by Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists in the video below. Mr. Raykhelson spends most of his time composing now, having built a catalog of over 30 works, largely in the solo piano, chamber and orchestral genres. Once all his orchestral works have been recorded, let's hope that Toccata will move on to Raykhelson's chamber and piano music.

June 15, 2014