Principal flute of the Mariinsky Orchestra Denis Lupachev and pianist Natalya Frolova release their new album “A Flute for the Tsar”. This is a new Stereo, Binaural (for headphone listeners), and Multichannel DSD 256 recording from Reach Sound Art. It was recorded with the Merging Technologies Horus Analog to DSD 256 Converter with AKD8D/AKD8DP conversion boards and monitored on B&W 802D speakers.
Solo flute performers of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra have always been recognized by their high technical skills. Throughout its 237-year history, the Imperial (Mariinsky) Theatre has included the most accomplished musicians of the time in its roster.
In the 19th century, with the advent of Romanticism, the expressive capabilities of the flute found the widest application in the orchestral music. Russian music was no exception to this trend: already in the first classical Russian operas -- Glinka’s Life for a Tsar and Ruslan and Ludmila, both of which premiered on the stage of the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, - the flute parts were intricate and technically demanding. At the rehearsals and performances of his A Life for a Tsar, Glinka heard the playing of one of the best European flutists, German Heinrich Soussman, who had worked in Russia for sixteen years.
A native of Germany, Heinrich Sussmann (1796-1848) (Heinrich Sussmann) performed with great triumph in St. Petersburg, after which he received an invitation to become a soloist in the orchestra of the Imperial Theater, where he worked for 16 years until 1838. In 1836, he was appointed music director of the Imperial Theater. Zusman is the author of many works for solo flute, flute with piano and flute with orchestra, as well as flute ensembles. But his pedagogical heritage — exercises, studies, and the “School of Playing the Flute” (1839) —which are still published all over the world, gained
Before the revolution musicians of German, Czech, and Italian origin occupied the majority of positions in St. Petersburg and Moscow orchestras. They also taught and of course composed music for their instrument.
Before the October revolution of 1917, musicians of German, Czech, and Italian origin had occupied the majority of positions in St. Petersburg and Moscow orchestras. They also taught, and composed music for their instrument.
The first flute professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory was the soloist of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra Italian Cesare Ciardi (1818-1877). Ciardi is considered one of the founders of the professional flute school in Russia. When the St. Petersburg Conservatory was opened in 1862 and Chiardi began to lead its flute class, young Pyotr Tchaikovsky had taken flute lessons from him and sometimes accompanied Chiardi on the piano during concerts.
Chiardi began his activities in Russia in 1853 as a soloist in the Italian Opera Orchestra, where he was invited by the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres. Under the contract, in addition to playing in the theater’s orchestra, he was supposed to give annual recitals at the Theatre’s Bolshoi and Small Halls. He achieved the highest title in the performing arts in tsarist’s Russia, one of the Soloist of His Imperial Majesty, which primarily gave an artist complete freedom to the artist.
Chiardi was replaced at the Mariinsky Theatre by his compatriot Ernesto Köhler, at the Conservatory, by German Karl Waterstraat. Karl Vener was another German flutist who worked at the Mariinsky Theatre and subsequently became a soloist at the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.
Karl Waterstraat’s student Fedor Stepanov became the first professional flute player educated in Russia. He joined the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the conductor Eduard Napravnik among other Conservatory’s graduates.
Ernesto Köhler (1849-1907) Italian-Russian flutist and composer.
Köhler was the son and the student of Josef (Giuseppe) Wenceslas Köhler (1809-1878), a flutist in the court orchestra in Modena. As a child, Köhler toured Italy, performing with his pianist brother. At the age of 19, he had already played flute in the orchestra with his father, and in 1869-1871, he performed as the soloist with the Karl Theatre Orchestra in Vienna. In 1871, on the recommendation of his compatriot Cesare Chiardi, Köhler was hired as a flutist by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre Orchestra. After the death of Chiardi in 1878, Köhler took his place as the first flutist. Köhler spent the rest of his life in St. Petersburg.
Köhler was one of the most eminent flutists of his time. He was the author of more than 100 pieces, etudes, and duets for flute published by the Zimmerman music publishing house, and all of which were popular during his lifetime. Köhler wrote opera Ben Ahmet (staged in 1893) and several successful ballets, including especially popular Clorinda, specifically for the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. When composing, Köhler paid considerable attention to the beauty of the melody. His music was widely known and often performed in Russia as well as in Europe, North America, and Australia. The audience loved his works, and the musicians highly appreciated the composer’s excellent knowledge of the flute playing techniques. Despite the fact that Köhler was born after the Theobald Böhm’s invention of the modern flute, he still played classical flutes of simple systems. Ironically, he admitted that his flute etudes were more convenient to play on the flute of Boehm's design. Köhler's etudes became a staple of the repertoire of beginner flutists’ repertoire.
After the death of Ernesto Köhler in 1907, he was succeeded by Vladimir Tsybin, who won a competition for the place of the flute soloist at the Mariinsky Theatre and worked there until 1920.
Vladimir Tsybin (1877-1949) - Russian and Soviet flutist, professor at the Moscow and St. Petersburg Conservatory, conductor, composer. He is considered the founder of the Russian national flute school.
In the summer of 1909, he participated in a tour of the theater troupe, performing at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris as part of Sergei Diaghilev's Russian Seasons. Simultaneously with working as the flutist-soloist in the Mariinsky Theatre orchestra in 1910-1914, at the age of 30, he received his secondary education at the St. Petersburg Conservatory majoring in Composition/Music Theory and Conducting. He studied composition with Alexander Glazunov, score reading with Anatoly Lyadov, and conducting with Nikolai Cherepnin, where Tsybin’s classmate was Sergey Prokofiev.
Since 1914, he taught flute at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After returning to Moscow in 1920, he was appointed as professor at the Moscow Conservatory, where he trained a multitude of outstanding flutists. Tsybin authors several works for orchestra and wind ensembles, but the main part of his legacy is flute music -- etudes, transcription exercises, and pieces with the piano accompaniment. Aa a flutist-composer, Tsybin wrote music based on the expectation of similar to his own abilities; therefore, the performer of his music today is required to have the highest technical skill.
The tradition turned out to be stronger than the historical circumstances: At the Kirov Theater (as the Mariinsky Theatre became known after the revolution), for a long time, flutists of the new generation worked side by side with the Russified foreigners, among which German flutist Max Berg played in the orchestra before WWII for forty years. For several decades, the German roots remained the hallmark of the flute performance in St. Petersburg/ Leningrad. This tradition was hardly affected by the French school with its light floating sound and indispensable vibrato that became fashionable in brass playing throughout the 20th century.
Among the flutists who came to the Kirov Theater in the postwar years were Vladimir Fedotov, Valentin Zverev, Lev Perepelkin, Alexander Mayorov, Eduard Shcherbachev and many others. The Mariinsky flutists of our days are the “grandchildren” and “great-grandchildren” of the masters of the past.
In the 21st century, the borders are blurred: at the competitions and masterclasses, representatives of different performing traditions learn the best from each other. And more than ever, the thesis of one of the patriarchs of the French flute school Maxence Larrieu is true today: “There is no French school, no German school and no American school. There are only good flute players.”