December 2016 – BORTKIEWICZ FESTIVAL 2017 in KIEV

Young Musicians in Ukraine are organizing a Bortkiewicz festival in Kiev in February/March 2017. If you want to visit this festival or want support them financially to make their mission a success, please visit their special crowdfunding page:


It is quite puzzling why, until very recently, the music of Bortkiewicz has not been widely known and loved: his high Romantic style makes him a natural to the legacy of Tchaikovsky, and he was a close contemporary of Rachmaninov. Born of Polish parentage, and later an Austrian citizen, Bortkiewicz lived in many parts of Europe but always considered himself truly Russian. This recording gives a wide sample of his work and will surely whet the appetite for more. Performed by Alfonso Soldano in his CD debut for Divine Art (dda 25142), a professor at the Conservatorio G. Braga in Teramo, Italy; he is also the biographer of the composer, a role which has given him unique insight into the mind and spirit of Bortkiewicz.

The release date of the CD is 14 October 2016. You will hear the following program on the CD: Lyrica Nova, Op. 59; Etude in D flat major, Op. 15 No. 8; Trois Morceaux, Op. 24 – No. 1 Nocturne; Esquisses de Crimée, Op. 8; Prelude, Op. 13 No. 5; Prelude, Op. 40 No. 4; Prelude, Op. 66 No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 60

Visit: Alfonso Soldano plays Nocturne op 24 no 1 (Diana)


“…DDA 25142 Bortkiewicz Piano Music
This is Volume 12 in Divine Art’s Russian Piano Music series, and it joins other fine recordings of this composer, whose music will appeal immediately to anyone who enjoys the music of Rachmaninoff. I recently reviewed many of the same pieces played by Nadejda Vlaeva (Hyperion 68118, July/Aug 2016). I have also reviewed six of the nine discs by Jouni Somero on the Finnish FC label (9723 & 9736, Sept/Oct 2012; 9740, 9741, 9742, Jan/Feb 2013). Soldano’s work here and the recording and booklet qualities all stand up fully to the other recordings. Soldano (b. 1986) is one of the last long­time students of Aldo Ciccolini. He clearly has an great affinity for this music and has also written a biography of Bortkiewicz. I have enjoyed this many times..” James Harrington (American Record Guide, USA)

“..Recently is appeared a CD that is an ideal mean and has an interpretation in which the music of Bortkiewicz is played optimally. This is thanks to the pianist Alfonso Soldano, which expresses this music with such devotion and deep intensity such as to enchant each listener. Soldano is also a pianist whose technical skill plays a sovereign role, and not have any problems with the performance of highly virtuosic music. The touching emotion that permeates the ‘interpretation of Soldano is simply disarming..” Grete Catus, (The New Listener, Deutschland)

“…Alfonso Soldano, who is new to this Divine Art series of Russian piano music, is a young, prize-winning Italian pianist blessed with Mediterranean good looks and a phenomenal technique, the latter of which I’m sure he worked at long and hard to achieve. This is absolutely a fantastic disc. If you’re not already acquainted with Bortkiewicz—and I wasn’t either, except for his Piano Concerto No. 1 on Volume 4 of Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series—prepare to be transported to a place of spell-binding splendor.
I notice that in addition to the concerto, Stephen Coombs has also recorded two discs’ worth of Bortkiewicz’s solo piano works which are now available in a Double set, but if you happen to have those CDs, rest assured that there are no duplications between them and this new Divine Art program by Soldano. If I could, l’d buy up every copy of this album and send it to every Fanfare subscriber; that’s how much I love it. If you’re as susceptible to this music as I am, you will love it too; I promise..” Jerry Dubins (Fanfare), USA


NADEJDA VLAEVA will play Bortkiewicz opus 61 (Fantasiestücke) and 64 (3 Mazurkas) during her Carnegie Hall recital on September 20, 2016 in New York


Nadejda Vlaeva’s interpretation of Ein Traum, opus 61 no. 2 is now on YouTube

Visit: Nadejda Vlaeva plays Ein Traum opus 61 no. 2


April 2016

Dutch Pianist FOLKE NAUTA played Epithalame opus 65 no. 3 on Dutch television on March 6, 2016. Bortkiewicz composed Epithalame for the left hand only. Pianist Rudolf Horn premiered the work on June 15, 1934 on Berlin radio. In its original form it was called Russischer Hochzeitsang.

Visit: Folke Nauta plays Epithalame

March 2016

Bortkiewicz violin concerto opus 22.jpg

In exploring worthwhile but forgotten Russian repertoire, violinist Sergey Levitin’s brilliant and expressive playing brings us Sergei Bortkiewicz’s expansive Violin Concerto in D minor (dedicated to his friend and violonist Frank Smit), full of Romantic ardour in the Grand Manner. Bortkiewicz came from a privileged background, but the political turmoil of Russia and Europe in the twentieth century saw him twice made homeless and finally settling in Austria. The Violin Concerto is coupled with the ambitious half-hour Symphonic poem Othello, a vivid and compelling musical tapestry encapsulating the essence of Shakespeare’s tragedy, in which Desdemona’s theme – a warmly harmonised melody for strings – is strongly reminiscent of Tchaikovsky. WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS – RECORDED IN SACD – DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7323

March 2016

Nadejda VlaevaNew York based Bulgarian pianist Nadejda Vlaeva performs a programme of alluring piano works by Sergei Bortkiewicz, many of them only recently discovered and here recorded for the first time.

‘Vlaeva plays all this with commanding authority. She can sing, she can charm, she can thunder, and she has a wonderfully innate rubato that suits Bortkiewicz’s idiom to perfection’ (Gramophone)

The five stars are for both the repertoire and the gentle persuasive way Vlaeva plays this sadly way-too-little-known late-Romantic Russian … more Bortkiewicz, Hyperion—we can’t get enough!’ (Pianist)

‘The playing is absolutely first class, not only in terms of technique, and Vlaeva consummately brings great power to the table when called for, while still ready to produce the most delicate pianissimo when needed’ (MusicWeb International)

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