Review -- Six Easy Pieces, Op. 59 (1914)
Easy pieces by a Russian composer? Anyone who has investigated the piano music of most Russian composers will agree that such a phenomenon is worth investigating (Liadov alone, perhaps, has several that could fit that description). Liapunov's suite of six pieces is not for beginners, certainly, but it is much easier than anything else he has written, and all the pieces are satisfying. Liapunov, like Schumann, seemed to appreciate the world of childhood, as evidenced by this piece (as well as the "Divertissements, Op. 35"). The first piece, "Jeu de Paume," is one of the trickier ones, but can be handled by most pianists of intermediate skills. The "Berceuse d'une poupée" is technically the easiest, but emotionally one of the deepest. Surely this is the saddest lullaby I could ever imagine being sung to a doll -- perhaps only a Russian doll could countenance it. "Sur une escarpolette" is airy and bright; "A cheval sur un bâton" is a wonderful combination of Roy Rogers and, well, Liapunov! The "Conte de la bonne" has a little story in Russian and French prefixed to the score, along with some words (in Russian) in the music, and is a grim story that any modern nurse would be arrested for telling to her infant charge. The last piece, "Ramage des enfants", a mere page long, always elicits chuckles and smiles from audiences, as it uses a short folksong-like tune with increasing canonic amplification to depict the "children's chatter" of its title. If this suite were widely available, it would make a useful addition to many a piano teacher's materials.