Nikolai Kapustin

Kapustin studied piano with Avrelian Rubakh (pupil of Felix Blumenfeld who also taught Simon Barere and Vladimir Horowitz) and, later, Alexander Goldenweiser at the Moscow Conservatory. During the 1950s he acquired a reputation as a jazz pianist, arranger and composer. He is steeped, therefore, in both the traditions of classical virtuoso pianism and improvisational jazz.

He fuses these influences in his compositions, using jazz idioms in formal classical structures. A striking example of this is his Suite in the Old Style op. 28, written in 1977, which inhabits the sound world of jazz improvisation but is modelled on baroque suites such as the keyboard partitas composed by J. S. Bach, each movement being a stylised dance or a pair of dances in strict binary form. Other examples of this fusion are his set of 24 Preludes and Fugues op. 82 written in 1997, and the op. 100 Sonatina.

Kapustin views himself as a composer rather than a jazz musician. He has said, "I was never a jazz musician. I never tried to be a real jazz pianist, but I had to do it because of the composing. I'm not interested in improvisation and what is a jazz musician without improvisation? All my improvisation is written, of course, and they became much better; it improved them."

Among his works are 18 piano sonatas, six piano concerti, other instrumental concerti, sets of piano variations, Etudes and concert studies; see list of compositions by Nikolai Kapustin.

Russian and Japanese record labels have released several recordings of the composer playing his own music. He has also been championed by a number of prominent western pianists, including Steven Osborne and Marc-André Hamelin who both released CDs devoted to Kapustin.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1997 Cello Sonata No 2 Opus 84 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Eckhart Runge - Cello
Jacques Ammon - Piano

1998 Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano Opus 86 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Emanuel Ensemble UK

1999 Elegy Opus 96 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Eckhart Runge - Cello
Jacques Ammon - Piano

1999 Burlesque Opus 97 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Eckhart Runge - Cello
Jacques Ammon - Piano

1999 Nearly Waltz 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Eckhart Runge - Cello
Jacques Ammon - Piano

Compilation Jazz Pieces for Piano 4.50 stars  CD
Epervier Comments:

Sonate No 1 "Sonata-Fantasia" (1984)
Sonata No 2 (1989)
24 Preludes in Jazz Style (1988)

Nikolai Kapustin - Piano

Compilation Piano Music 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Eight Concert Etudes (1984)
24 Preludes in Jazz Style (1988)

Catherine Gordeladze - Piano

Compilation Piano Music 4.00 stars CD
Epervier Comments:
Sonate No 1 "Sonata-Fantasia" (1984)
24 Preludes in Jazz Style (1988)
Sonata No 2 (1989)

Steven Osborn - Piano

Compilation Piano Works 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Piano Sonata No. 15, Op. 127, "Fantasia quasi Sonata" (2005)
24 Preludes in Jazz Style, Op. 53, Nos. 11, 12, 13, 17 & 18 (1988)
8 Concert Etudes, Op. 40, Nos. 5, 6 & 7 (1984)
10 Bagatelles, Op. 59, Nos. 2, 5 & 8 (1991)
Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 54: II. Scherzo (1989)

John Salmon - Piano

Compilation Piano Music 3.50 stars CD
Epervier Comments:
Variations Opus 41 (1984)
Ten Bagatelles for Piano (1991)
Suite in Old Style (1977)
Piano Sonata No 6 (1991)
Sonatina Opus 100 (2000)
Five Etudes in Different Intervals (1992)

Marc-Andre Hamelin - Piano