Présence lointaine
Sofya Melikyan piano

September 2023

Sofya Melikyan’s fascinating album has as its inspiration the great Ricardo Viñes, composer and pianist, champion of young progressive composers (he was Satie’s favourite performer of his music), whose friends included among others Picasso, Gide, Colette, Cocteau. Cocteau said of him ‘Viñes does not play, he elucidates’ To define Viñes ‘the shining light of contemporary art’, as Adolfo Salazar described him in 1918 as the pianist of the French avant-garde is absolutely correct, albeit quite inadequate at the same time. Like his compatriots Granados and Malats, he was a student of De Bériot, and taking First Prize in piano at the Paris Conservatoire in 1894 followed by his first recital at the Salle Pleyel on 21 February 1895 marked the launch of a career that, over the course of four decades, would prove to be as frenetic as it was thrilling. Viñes’s insatiable curiosity for so-called ‘modern music’ and his ever restless temperament, always eager to discover neglected repertoire of the present day and to present it to the public as well as music from the past, became apparent very early on, as in his recital of 18 April 1898 at the Salle Érard, at which he gave the premiere of the Menuet antique by one of his first and greatest friends in Paris, Maurice Ravel, or in his historic cycle of four concerts that he would give in the same hall between March and April 1905 devoted to ‘Keyboard music from its origins to the present day’.


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