The Music of Nikolai Kapustin

My involvement with the music of Nikolai Kapustin came about, like many others, when I heard my first piece of his on this excellent Hyperion CD, on which Marc-André Hamelin plays the Toccatina Op. 35. I was instantly attracted to it and started trawling the Internet for more information, eventually picking up this jazz-inspired programme by Hamelin and finding my way to the Variations Op. 40 which I learnt immediately.

I then started learning the 1st piano sonata, eventually giving the Singapore first performance of it in 2009, and ended up embarking on a years-long project to assimilate as much of the music as I could. In 2012, a group of friends was persuaded to jump in with me and so we presented a programme of the most easily available chamber music, which was very well received indeed and resulted in two other sequels.

Contact with the maestro himself came in October 2012 when I enquired at MusT to the state of the 7 Polyphonic Pieces for Left Hand Alone Op. 87, which I found as a manuscript facsimile and wanted to prepare for performance. I was then put in touch with Mr. Kapustin himself and from then on an active correspondence developed which saw the performance of some of the most recent piano works.


Complete repertoire learnt (* denotes a local première, † a world première):

Concerti: No. 2 (Op. 14)

Sonatas: No. 1*, 6, 8, 11*, 13*, 16, 20† (Opp. 39*, 62, 77, 101*, 110*, 131, 144†)

Études: Complete études (Opp. 40, 67, 68, 122†, 149†)

Variations: Variations Op. 41, Theme and Variations Op. 80

Sets of pieces: Suite in Old Style Op. 28*, selections from 24 Preludes in Jazz Style Op. 53, 7 Polyphonic Pieces for Left Hand Alone Op. 87†, 6 Little Pieces Op. 133*

Single-opus pieces: Toccatina Op. 36, Andante Op. 58*, Berceuse Op. 65*, Sonatina Op. 100, Wheel of Fortune Op. 113, Rondoletto Op. 115†, Paraphrase on Aquarela do Brasil by Ary Barroso Op. 118, Paraphrase on Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham Op. 123*, Countermove Op. 130†, Holy Cow Op. 139†, Freeway Op. 140†, Dialogue Op. 148†, Nobody is Perfect Op. 151†, A Pianist in Jeopardy Op. 152†, Rainy Weather Op. 159, Something Else Op. 160

Chamber music: Two-movement Concerto Op. 30 (version for piano 4 hands), Sinfonietta Op. 49* (version for piano 4 hands), Cello Sonata No. 1 and 2 (Opp. 63, 84*), Viola Sonata Op. 69, Violin Sonata Op. 70*, Trio for flute, piano and cello Op. 86*, String Quartet No. 1 Op. 88* (on violin 1), Divertissement for two flutes, cello and piano Op. 91, ElegyBurlesque and Nearly Waltz for cello and piano (Opp. 96, 97, 98), Divertissement for violin, cello and piano Op. 126*, Paraphrase on Manteca by Dizzy Gillespie for two pianos Op. 129*, Viola Sonatina Op. 158*

3 thoughts on “The Music of Nikolai Kapustin

  1. You have shared so much of Kapustin’s music, especially for the first recordings you should get a medal!

    I’ve done a quick overview of unrecorded recent Kapustin music (with published sheet music), and it seems like only the Inventions Op. 73 (except 9 and 10 which are on Youtube) and Rainy Weather op. 159 are unrecorded. Introduction and Rondo op. 128 weirdly has a mp3 floating around the internet.
    Of course there are many more Kapustin works whose sheet music is still in preparation and which is still unrecorded, unfortunately.
    I’m thinking about recording Rainy Weather Op. 159 for Youtube as a first recording. Unless you tell me it’s not a first recording, then i’ll maybe rather go for his earlier, more accessible works.

    1. Hi Simon, and thank you for your kind words!
      The Suite op. 92 remains unrecorded as well, and it’s been something I’ve been kind of meaning to get around to. But with my recent focus on the chamber music it has taken a back seat – not to mention learning the 2nd piano sonata takes up an incredible amount of time and energy!
      Please do Rainy Weather if you can… Any recording of Kapustin will be appreciated by the world. The recently-published Op. 161 “Moon Rainbow” has yet to be recorded too, though I’ve had the sheet music for a very long time now.

  2. Dear Thomas,
    I am so inspired by music of Nikolai Kapustin and by the work you are doing in discovering and promoting his works.
    Where can I find/purchase Divertissmento op.91 sheet music? I would love to play it!
    Any help will be greatly appreciated!

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