About the Work
Eduard Baghdasarian was one of the greatest composer in Armenia. His masterpiece, “24 Preludes,” has been out of print for many years and very difficult to find. Pianist Raffi Besalyan has edited the first edition of the 24 Preludes, which had many typographical errors, and it is now available in a new edition. The fingering by Besalyan himself has also been added, which will help those who are just learning the work.
Commentary by Raffi Besalyan
The extremely varied 24 Preludes encompass all major and minor keys. These were written in four sets of six in 1951, 1953 , 1954 , 1958 and first published in 1961. Spontaneous expressions, abundance of figurative content, richness and freshness of the harmonic language, folk inspirations with added color of Armenian modes are inherent in this cycle. Furthermore, Baghdasarian’s fluency at the keyboard opened up great opportunities for the composer to develop and apply variety of piano techniques in each prelude. The short Prelude No. 2 is a dance-song, the most prevalent type of folk music in Armenia, a genre that resumes many times throughout the cycle; while No. 3 is an “oriental” Presto study, No. 4 is a demanding toccata. Baghdasarian is most expressive in the grand romantic Prelude No. 6. This colorful virtuosic “painting” evokes the vast landscape of Armenia, and is perhaps one of the highlights of the entire cycle, and most popular. The playful ethnic, yet jazzy outer sections of No. 7 contrast with its rhythmically driven bass sonorities in the middle section. Fleeting beauty of No. 8 has some qualities of “new-age” music, and is tastefully painted with transparent impressionistic colors. Prelude No. 9 is a graceful minuet. No. 11 is a great example of Baghdasarian’s use of a single distinctive figuration which he develops throughout: the mysterious tranquillo of the outer sections is masterfully juxtaposed with the grounded dance-like B section. Impressionistic figurations of Prelude No. 14 lead to passionate, almost “Rachmaninovian” intensity and drama in the middle. No. 18 is an intimate “Chopinesque” nocturne. Brief toccata of Prelude No. 23 precedes another high point in the cycle, poignant and evocative Prelude No. 24 with its rhapsodic character and most touching Armenian song-like melody. This resembles a short ballade.