The latest addition to a distinguished roll-call of Chopin pianists on Brilliant Classics is the Russian Rem Urasin. Born in 1976, Urasin was a prize-winner at the International Chopin Youth Competition in Moscow (1992) and the 13th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (1995). Growing up in Kazan, he was a student at the city’s conservatoire before, at the age of 18, undertaking studies at the Moscow Conservatoire where he graduated in 2001.
Urasin has since given concerts across Europe as well as making well-received debuts at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Concert Hall in Beijing and the Sydney Opera House. Filmmakers in Kazan have made two films about him – This Eternal Miracle (1993) and Grand Playing (2000). Previous recordings have included music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, as well as Chopin, for whose music he shows a deep and evident sympathy. In 2009 and 2010 he performed a complete cycle of the composer’s works in 11 concerts, and a recording from the 2005 Van Cliburn Competition shows him giving breathtaking accounts of two Etudes alongside works by Bach and Liszt. For his debut on Brilliant Classics, Urasin has chosen what is perhaps Chopin’s personal genre, that of the Mazurka. He makes artistic play with the art of his native Poland in a complex and career-long dialogue with Nationalism so characteristic of his age. It is surely significant that he only began regular composition of them after he had left Poland with uncertain prospects of return, and the first two major publications from what was to be his permanent absence from home were the Op. 6 and 7 sets, both written in Vienna, city of the waltz, where as he wrote to his family ‘my piano knows only mazury’. Homesickness remained the expressive key signature of his mazurkas, until the spectral melancholy of the F minor mazurka Op.68 No.4, which is an entirely appropriate candidate to represent ‘Chopin’s last thoughts’.
The Mazurka is a Polish folk dance in ¾ metre, the first “composed” examples going back to the middle of the 18-th century. It became a symbol of Polish patriotism, expressing the indomitable Polish identity and vitality.
Chopin’s Mazurkas are “not meant to be danced” as he himself declared. They are highly artistic, harmonically complex miniatures, expressing the deeper human feelings of joy and exultation, but also melancholy and despair. Chopin wrote them during his whole lifetime, from youthful scribblings to highly sophisticated late works.
Russian pianist Rem Urasin (born 1976) specialised in Chopin, having played all his works in concert. He won 4-th Prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1995 and First Prize in the Moscow Chopin Competition. He was a pupil of the great Lev Naumov.