Why present etudes by Alexandre Scriabine, Claude Debussy and Gyorgy Ligeti together on one disk? Such is the creative concept of the pianist Angela Tosheva - the compositional criteria are as integral to the piece of music as the piece itself is to the programme, both being grounded in an organic synthesis of elements.The interpreter's motivation is connected with and bound by the difficulties of the piano etude as a genre too.
While in the background are the many instructional pieces by Czerny, Moszkovsky, Berens, Clementi, Cramer and others, the etudes by Chopin and Liszt loom brilliantly combining technical and teaching aspects perfectly with unique artistic qualities. But let us not omit the "Etudes Tableaux" by Rachmaninov, he being a revolutionary pianist combining a charming and fascinating pseudo-romanticism with a complex but direct ornamental sonority which is closer to that of Scriabine and Debussy than to Liszt and Chopin.
Where are Scriabine, Debussy and Ligeti to be placed? From an academic perspective, the first two are not professional pianists, although they are among the most famous improvisers in music, while Ligeti has never been a performing artist. The few recordings of Debussy preserved today are not very popular among professional musicians, since his unambitious manner of making music seems unprofessional and not a good example to follow.
There are some recordings of Scriabine performing his own music - an individualistic and whimsical manner of making music, imperfect in itself, yet great in the light of the tastes and fashions of that time. The result: a few more opuses of unique and magnificent piano etudes, and the realization that the extensive and polyvalent term "etude" defines a genre which involves more than mere pedagogy, and which is not bound by fixed artistic value systems.
In his earlier works Scriabine evokes associations with Chopin (the German influence on Scriabine is limited. Later he created his own organic and extremely subjective musical language and found his own composing and instrumental techniques to match his ideas.
Thus Scriabine, being a well-known composer of coloristic as well as mystic and ecstatic music scores, wrote his unique etudes which are the quintessence of Post-Romantic individualism and expressionistic utterance, together with a new and imaginative approach to piano sonority. The piano sonority is the link between Scriabine and the other composers included in this album - timbral-thinking as the original source of musical meaning is something new for the end of 19th century; the tonal compositional system of Classicism and early Romanticism, did not allow for an individual instrument to develop a separate, specific sonic individuality. Scriabine and Debussy are brilliant cases of musical extremity that overcame tradition in an organic and optimal manner - not as an end in itself but as an intensive development.
The often commented interest Debussy had in the exotic is only a detail of his artistic being. More important is his overcoming of the duality present in the ruling European sonata-form thinking - in the way the composer stays alert for the sounds of the soul and of nature, for music that brings pleasure and not only ideas.
The piano etudes of Debussy are phenomenal - skillful and magnificent modulations of the permanently present technical element of an intuitive and fantastic visionary; behind each specific atmosphere lies a unique creative ambition. Debussy makes us enjoy not only his skill as a composer, but the beauty of the radically renovated grand piano of that time too.
Ligeti is one of the most ardent connoisseurs of Debussy. Like his colleagues on the disc, he feels in his unique way the intuitive impulse which imperatively directs him to musical spheres beyond the German and Austrian educational Humanism. Being a Hungarian, Ligeti experiences difficulties like those of Bartok in a country of cultural and political controversies where the centrifugal forces of belonging to the West-European culture are confronted with the unique and dynamic Hungarian originality and radicalism. Later, during his emigration, Ligeti composes relatively free of the above mentioned context, but the subtle relations with the Hungarian and East European are permanently present. In conversations and discussions he always pays attention to the fact that his creative impulses are diverse and equal, often stimulated by subjects and events external to music - graphics, sculpture, books, trips, acknowledgement of other cultures.
All these the composer transforms, gives focus to and puts in alignment with his creative individuality. His is a visual and self-organized, merciless and fascinating composing machine made by an engineer who constructs through play of clear geometry, flexibility and keen sense of instrumental color. What Ligeti is not able to do as an instrumentalist is balanced and overcome in a venturesome way through precise and effective acoustic concept and inner fantasy. All of these are confirmed by his trust in the interpreter - the partner of the composer. At the turn of two millenniums there could be found no more generous and noble challenge for a pianist.
In a word: A visionary pianist presents three visionary composers.
ANGELA TOSHEVA, pianist
A rare mixture of rigour and dynamics characterizes Angela Tosheva's performance style. These have been recognized as exceptional qualities and have lead to the numerous awards that she received throughout her career. Her professional achievements include Usti nad Labem award at the age of 12, first prize at the International competition in Salerno in 1978, first prize at the Liszt-Bartok competition in 1988, Golden Feather award of the Classic FM Sofia 1997.
Deemed one of the most outstanding Bulgarian pianists, Angela Tosheva graduated from Sofia Academy of Music in 1984. Musical studies: 1975-1980: Secondary Music School in Sofia (Piano with Liudmila Stoyanova), 1980-1984 - State Musical Academy in Sofia (1980-1982: with Prof. Mara Petkova, 1982 - 1984 : with Prof. Bogomil Starshenov), 1984-1986: Master degree on Piano and Chamber Music in The State Academy of Music in Sofia (Piano with Prof. Lilly Atanassova and Chamber Music with Prof. Dimitar Kozev); 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986: Bartok Seminar in Hungary with Prof. Gyorgy Sebok; 1986 - Early Music Master Class in Trondheim, Norway - (Harpsichord and Chamber Music with Prof. Ketil Haugsand); 1989 - Prof. Gyorgy Sebok's Piano and Chamber Music Master Class in Ernen, Switzerland.
1991 - Master of Art Criticism - Ph.D. with thesis on "Interpretation's approach to the Evolution of the Genre of The Piano Quartet and Quintet 1600-1880"
In 2003 she founded The Orange Factory music school and music publishing house, which offers recording and publishing services and an International Master's Course in piano and composition in Sofia.
In February 2002, she was invited by the Quebec Society of Contemporary Music in Montreal, Canada to give a recital with contemporary Bulgarian and Canadian piano music. The mentioned recital has been broadcasted by Radio Canada (CBC) on June 2, 2002. In May 2001 Angela Tosheva performed Sergei Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto in the best concert halls in Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, Spain, with Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra. In October, 2002, she has performed Michael Nyman's piano concerto at the official ceremony in the presence of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, organized by the British Council to mark 10 years of The British Council in Bulgaria and the opening of the new British Embassy in Sofia.
In 1997, she was invited by the Sao Paulo University Music Department to give a seminar on contemporary music and Bela Bartok's works for piano, and to perform twelve concerts with new music and classics. Since 1991, after giving up her academic career, she is living as a freelance soloist. She helds master classes in Hungary (Siofok 2004) and Sofia (2000, 2003 and 2004).
Concerts and concert tours all over the world - her extraordinary performance have been internationally acclaimed in more than twenty countries including Portugal, Brazil, Italy, France, Russia, Ireland, Turkey, Canada, Norway and in the USA.