Reverie

Reverie

Konstantin – who calls herself ‘a miniaturist’ – has created a style which, with its gentle melodiousness and invocation of an elegiac melancholy peculiar to English pastoral music, pays homage to her love for Britain. Several of the pieces are part of a collection she calls Dorset Sketches.

The first of them is Poundbury, composed to celebrate the success of a town created by Prince Charles in the 1990s as a reaction against current trends in urban planning. ‘People call it, the “Marmite town” – you either love it, or hate it.’ says Konstantin. ‘I love it. To me it revisits history with a modern twist.’

Other items from Dorset Sketches include Chapelhay Steps, Chesil Beach, Greenhill, Purbeck and Abbotsbury Gardens. ‘Chapelhay Steps is such a beautiful place – and I feel a strong connection to it, because my husband was baptised in the local church. I feel an even stronger connected to Greenhill, because that is where I now live. Chesil Beach is part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a breathtaking site: if I were a painter, I would love to sketch it, but I have tried to capture the beauty in music. Purbeck and Abbotsbury Gardens are also famously beautiful sites in Dorset, and I wanted to evoke the emotions they inspire in me.’

With its tranquil beginning, livelier middle section, and sleepy conclusion, 24 Hours is structured around the activities of an average day from waking to bedtime. But there is another reason behind the name too. ‘I had sketches of various melodies lying around, but had not yet pulled them together. Then, just 24 hours before the recording session, I realised I could make them into a piece. It was nerve-wracking to record.’

Moonlight Rhapsody and Reverie are both based on pre-existing works, in the tradition of Gounod’s Ave Maria; the former on Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, and the latter (like Gounod’s piece) on Prelude in C major, BWV 846 from Book 1 of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. ‘At first I wanted to write a vocalise for soprano over the “Moonlight” Sonata, but I adore lyrical qualities of the cello too, so decided to compose it for that instrument. And I was so lucky that such a wonderful musician as Jiaxin Lloyd Webber agreed to play it. With the other piece, which I have written for a trio, I felt that if someone else had been able to adapt Bach’s music, then I would like to try too – and I found it fascinating to discover how much one can bring to it without altering a note of the original.’

Jiaxin’s talent also lies behind the Cello Sonata. ‘I was inspired by her extraordinary musicianship, her ability, and her passion, and so wrote this Sonata for her. It was wonderful to work with her on it.’

Works such as Nocturne Regrets, Love Ballade, Recollections and Twilight express universal emotions, and familiar moods. ‘We all have something to regret, and we all fall in love,’ says Konstantin. ‘With Twilight, I wanted to recapture a vision of the sun coming down and dying away: the music goes down at the end, like the sinking of the sun.’

Of the two piano sonatas presented here, Piano Sonata No.4 is lighter in mood and more in keeping with the style of the lyrical Romanticism on the rest of the album. Piano Sonata No.3, however, is more powerful and emotional, and is dedicated to the suffering experienced by Konstantin’s family under Stalin. ‘My grandfather was a political prisoner, and members of my family were exiled to Siberia. Through my childhood, I felt the pain of their experiences, and even then, there was still lots of fear. I really poured my anger into this work, and I dedicate it to their suffering.’

Konstantin still feels she has much more to give . ‘I wish I’d known earlier that I can do this . It’s so close to my heart. I feel I have a different life now, a different mission. And I love it.’

Warwick Thompson.

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