When we can we like to promote players and works you might not have heard or hear of. We have actually featured the superb Russian guitarist Asya Selyutina a couple of times in the past, but she is still not widely known, and I was really struck by this particular piece by Sergey Rudnev, who, along with countryman Nikita Koshkin, has established himself as perhaps the preeminent contemporary Russian composers for guitar. Rudnev (b. 1955) started out composing peces that were heavily influenced by Western classical music and jazz, but soon stared to explore traditional Russian folk music through his compositions, extrapolating on simple themes in fascinating ways. He once noted that he wanted “to create complete works for the guitar built upon popular Russian folk songs, using folk and classical techniques.” The late Matanya Ophee was an early champion of Rudnev, publishing pieces through his Editions Orphée, and Rudnev’s works have been recorded by a number of fine guitarists including two of my favorites, Artyom Dervoed and Rovshan Mamedkuliev.
If you have heard Rudnev’s work before, it might well have been The Old Lime Tree. Well, this one is called The Snowball Tree (Oi, da ty, Kalinyshka) and it’s a marvelous piece, with many beautiful melodic moments and also some interesting twists along the way, in which the pace builds and new drama unfolds. Selyutina’s performance, recorded in Germany in the summer of 2019, is wonderful, as are the sound and video quality! —Blair Jackson