The 9 preludes for piano are the first large-scale work in which Maxim Shalygin managed to find the subtle connections inside musical matter that invite the listener to move inward. Everything in the preludes is aimed at gradual immersion, avoiding the use of external effects. He consciously relied on well-known historical genres in order to give the listener the opportunity to enter with ease into the gate of introspection. From there on, the labyrinths of various and new feelings can be discovered and we start to experience a different sense of time. While writing the work Shalygin often composed at the piano or played the preludes for his friends. Always in the company of candlelight. This intimate and dark atmosphere allowed him to become one with himself without the distraction of external factors. This is what he wishes for the listeners as well; sometimes the music is so quiet that we start to hear our own breath.
Among the many clichés surrounding Russia, perhaps none is more persistent than a nostalgia Russians supposedly feel for a time they may never have known. Helena Basilova, born in Russia to two established pianists/composers but raised in The Netherlands, subverts all other stereotypes. But her personal history did – undeniably – instil her with a sense of melancholy. This wistfulness is never stronger than in her connection to Russian music and its widespread influence in (Eastern) Europe.
Though Helena performs repertoire from all periods and styles, her story has led her time and again to Russian composers such as Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Scriabin. Over the last few years, Helena dedicated herself to perform more unrevealed repertoire, discovering many treasures and focusing on collaborating with living composers such as Maxim Shalygin and Elena Firsova.
‘Helena Basilova played sensitively and with flair.’ New York Times
Listen to Prelude IX