‘An everlasting desire for clarity’ – Violetta Khachikyan interprets Romantic fugues for the piano

Under the title Fugenpassion, Violetta Khachikyan has recorded a new CD with various fugues for the piano from the Romantic era. Khachikyan is a versatile concert pianist and celebrated chamber musician, ‘a master of timbre’ (Westdeutsche Zeitung). Born in Krasnodar (southern Russia), she studied at the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory, among others, under Prof. Tatiana Zagarovskaya, and at the Lübeck Academy of Music under Prof. Konstanze Eickhorst, where Khachikyan completed her graduate recital. She won the European Piano Contest Bremen and hold awards from a number of international competitions.

When you think of fugue compositions for the piano, the first thing that probably comes to mind is The Well-Tempered Clavier by Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was without doubt a true grandmaster of the genre. But have there perhaps been substantial developments in the genre since then? The answer is a resounding yes. Interest in the fugue, especially in fugues for the piano, waxed and waned in the years following 1750, but experienced a revival of sorts not least in the ‘long’ 19th century. It was during this Romantic era – certainly in the sum of musicians’ views at the time – that a notably complex relationship with the fugue structure was formed.

In her selection of the repertoire for the CD, Violetta Khachikyan tries to provide insight into what the essence of a Romantic fugue is, and to create an overview of what drove Romantic composers to write fugues, specifically. The listener is treated to several previously unrecorded pieces (such as two fugues from a seventeen-year-old Felix Mendelssohn).

The pianist herself describes her foray into the project as follows: ‘An entire CD of Romantic fugues seems brave and really unusual. Romantic fugues continue to be a unique treat for the ear: you are not just caught up in their big energy, but also emotionally affected in a very special way, unlike old Baroque fugues. Experimenting with musical arrangements is exciting. But actually executing so many fugues, with their themes, patterns and tones, in an exciting way and presenting their unique qualities to the audience – those are also exciting prospects. Because above all, a fugue is a clear structure, strictly coordinating at least two voices and thereby creating a masterful, extremely concentrated statement. It’s amazing how many pieces there were to choose from – the famous composers of the Romantic era constantly worked on fugues for various reasons. The title of the album, Fugenpassion, comes from Clara Schumann’s diary. It is interesting how versatile, even adventurous and poetic the fugue can be.’

The recording will be released on 20 March 2020 by GWK Records.

Official trailer for the CD 

The CD booklet can be seen here.

The official press folder for the project can be found here.

For more information about pianist Violetta Khachikyan, please visit her website www.violettakhachikyan.com