Ornstein: Piano Music, Vol. 1 / Kharitonov

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Russian-born American composer Ornstein (1893–2002) lived long enough – an astonishing 109 years – to see his music fall into and re-emerge from obscurity. His earliest surviving work dates from around 1905; his last was composed in 1990. Not surprisingly, his music embraces a range of styles, from atmospheric impressionism to fiery virtuosity to the Rachmaninov-like Romanticism.


By turns savage, tender, crushingly dissonant, and ravishingly lyrical, the piano music of Russian emigre Leo Ornstein is astonishing in its inventiveness and inspiration. Ornstein lived to be 109 years old, composing from 1905 until 1990, and experimented with every conceivable style, introducing tone clusters into the concert hall as a virtuoso pianist, garnering a reputation as a Futurist even as he wrote limpid song-like pieces that might pass for early Scriabin or Rachmaninoff.

One of the great originals, Ornstein represented no school or dogma; an unwavering intensity and poetry were his only constants. If you have never heard this complex, multi-layered, entertainingly colorful music, grab this well-filled CD, Part I of a welcome series. Pianist Arsentiy Kharitonov emphasizes Ornstein’s Russianess, splashing the Cossack Impressions, Sonata 4, 4 Impromptus, and ‘In the Country’ with lavish colors. It’s certainly a valid approach and is well served by the richsounding recording.

-- American Record Guide

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 30, 2012

  • Catalog Number: TOCC0141

  • UPC: 5060113441416

  • Label: Toccata Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Leo Ornstein

  • Performer: Arsentiy Kharitonov