Sunday 20 September 2015

Dina Duisen really brings the music alive in her recently released recording of mazurkas by composers from Chopin to Thomas Adès

Pianist Dina Duisen was born into a family of musicians in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Duisen studied piano at Kulyash Bayseitova State Special School for Gifted Children, continuing her studies at the Kazakh National Academy of Music, graduating with distinction in 2005. She was awarded a full scholarship on the Artist Diploma programme at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, from which she graduated in 2008. At the same time, Duisen was invited to work as a teacher of music at the Texas Wesleyan University. In September 2008, she started studying for the new Master of Arts Degree in Performance at the Royal Academy of Music, under the tutelage of Christopher Elton, Hamish Milne and Kathryn Stott, graduating with distinction in 2011.

Dina Duisen has participated in a number of masterclasses with such artists as Marcello Abbado, Pascal Devoyon, Gary Graffman, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Vladimir Krainev, Marios Papadopoulos, Menahem Pressler and Vladimir Viardo. She was one out of eight pianists selected to participate in Sergei Babayan's International Piano Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Ohio, USA.

A major prize winner at many piano competitions, including the 29th International Piano Competition in Senigallia, Italy, the Shabyt International Competition, the National Competition of Kazakhstan and the International Musician of the 21st Century Competition, Duisen has also participated in a number of international music festivals in Europe, the USA and in Asia.

She has been playing chamber music as part of the Duisen Duo in the UK, Italy, USA and at The Presidential Centre of Culture in Kazakhstan. She has also been regularly invited to give solo recitals at venues including the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building in Oxford, St Martin-in-the-Fields, St James’s Piccadilly, King’s Place and Yamaha Music London. In 2012 Dina performed Prokofiev's 1st Piano Concerto at the Season Opening Concert of Astana Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2014, she gave the Asian premiere of Mazurkas by British composer Thomas Adès.

Dina Duisen has now recorded Thomas Adès’ Mazurkas on a new disc of mazurkas by composers from Chopin to Adès which is available from!album/cghg or as a download from Amazon

She begins her traversal of mazurkas with Frederic Chopin’s (1810-1849) Mazurka in C-sharp minor, Op. 41, No 1 shaping the rhythmic patterns beautifully with a nicely crisp touch and rising to moments of fine power. Two further Chopin mazurkas follow, the Mazurka in C major, Op. 24, No 2 that really dances along with a fine rhythmic spring in a rather captivating performance and the Mazurka in B-flat major, Op. 7, No 1 where Duisen brings a lovely ebb and flow and a lightly sprung touch with some lovely poetic moments.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) is represented here by his Mazurka brillante, S. 221 to which this pianist brings a gentle, subtle lift to the music together with quite a sense of Lisztian fun. The central section is delightful.

There are two mazurkas by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), a beautifully fluent Mazurka in G minor, Op. 24 that is revealed to be a very attractive piece with a fine control of dynamics and a beautifully turned coda and the Mazurka in B minor, Op. 66, another fine mazurka of real substance especially as played here, with great breadth and fluidity as well as some lovely quieter moments as the coda arrives.

Dina Duisen really points up the fast moving rhythms of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s (1840-1893) Mazurka de Salon in D minor, Op. 9, No 3 bringing such clarity and a very fine rubato. She brings a lovely simplicity to Tchaikovsky’s charming little Mazurka in D minor, Op. 39, No 11.

She finds all of Anatoly Lyadov’s (1855-1914) varying moods and tempi in his Mazurka in F major, Op. 38 with some fine pianistic flourishes whilst picking up on the gentle nostalgia in the Mazurka in F minor, Op. 57, No 3.

Duisen provides a lovely, free flowing performance of Isaac Albeniz’s (1860-1909) Mazurka de salon Sofia, Op. 66, No 4, finding a lovely Mediterranean warmth.

There is a fast moving, fluent Mazurka in G major, Op. 53, No 4 by Anton Arensky (1861-1906) before Claude Debussy’s (1862-1918) Mazurka in F-sharp minor, L. 67. I hadn’t come across this piece before but it seems to date from around 1890. Duisen picks out many subtleties, hints of Debussy to come, bringing a freedom and spontaneity.

Who would have expected a mazurka from Frederick Delius (1862-1934) His Mazurka dates from around 1922/23 and has a dream like quality, well caught here.  

Two composers who have anniversaries this year are Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) and Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915). Dina Duisen finds many fine moments in Sibelius’ Mazurka in A major, Op. 34, No 3 before bringing us two mazurkas by Scriabin. In the Mazurka in D-flat major, Op. 40, No 1 she brings a thoughtful quality that is quite beguiling and shows her fine grasp of Scriabin’s sound world in a most lovely performance of the Mazurka in F-sharp major, Op. 40, No 2, full of poetry.

Reinhold Glière’s (1875-1956) Three Mazurkas Op.29 date from 1906. This pianist brings a lovely flow to No 1 in B minor before a beautifully phrased No 2 in A-flat major. She builds No 3 in B-flat minor nicely, bringing a real breadth to the fuller passages.

Two of Karol Szymanowski’s (1882-1937) Mazurka’s Op. 50 follow. The elusive No 13 is quite wonderfully captured, its gentle rhythms slowly growing more dramatic before its gentle coda. No 14 is a more vibrant piece, with somewhat difficult twists and turns, beautifully done here with subtle harmonies.

Duisen leaps perfectly into Sergei Prokofiev’s Mazurka in B major, Op. 12, No 4 with its wayward harmonies and rhythmic difficulties; handled beautifully.

Dina Duisen finally comes right up to date with Thomas Adès’ (b.1971) set of Mazurkas Op.27 (2009). The Mazurka Op. 27, No 1 again follows perfectly, Adès’ lovely harmonies and subtle rhythms caught so well and with a terrific little coda. There are rippling, fluent phrases and a lovely clarity in the Mazurka Op. 27, No 2 before the piece builds rhythmically. Finally there is the
Mazurka Op. 27, No 3 that opens slowly as the theme is picked out before building from its rather fragmentary origins and gently developing in strength before leading to a quiet coda. This is a performance that should win many admirers of this work.

What a great idea it was to bring together mazurkas from such a wide range of composers and eras. This is a well thought out recital in which Dina Duisen really brings these varied mazurkas alive. With a first class recording from Andrew Keener made at Kings Place, London, England this recital is a most rewarding release. 

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