These Three Studies Op. 18 for piano represent the culmination of Bartók’s efforts to compose pedagogical piano works. Like Debussy’s etudes, Bartók’s studies were intended to help pianists develop certain skills and overcome particular technical difficulties. They were designed primarily as exercises focusing on the expansion and contraction of the pianist’s hand, though there is some evidence to suggest that he also planned to include these pieces in his concert repertoire. However, in a letter written nearly two decades later, Bartók admitted to a friend that “I cannot play the three Etudes. I haven’t played them–ever or anywhere–since 1918.” While it is unknown why Bartók could not play his own pieces, this fact certainly testifies to their extreme difficulty.
The first Study is an exploration in what commentators have identified as disjunct chromaticism: that is, the one hand plays major and minor seconds and thirds, while the other plays the same intervals one octave apart (as ninths and tenths). The result is that the outermost fingers of the hand are rigorously stretched, with brief periods of relaxation in between to allow for the hands to contract. Harmonic ambiguity and bitonality are important features of this piece.
Laureate of numerous piano competitions (“A. Rubinstein” (Paris), “The Muse” (Santorini), “Yakov Flier” (Moscow) International Piano Competitions, “Normandy European Piano Competition” (France), “Audience prize” holder of San Daniele International Piano Meeting, Mark Taratushkin performs successfully as soloist and as chamber musician throughout Russia and Europe.
Born in Ukraine, where he started his musical education at the age of five, he moved to Moscow, where he soon was accepted to the Central Music School. Later he entered Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he studied in class of professor Natalia Troull. Upon graduating from the Moscow Conservatory in 2013, the young pianist moved to Germany, where he continued his education in class of professor G. Zitterbart in HMTM Hannover, and later under the guidance of professor K. Hellwig at UdK Berlin, where he studies until present.
Etude Op. 18 No. 1
Mark Taratushkin, piano
Prepared by Anna Saradjian