Out & About

June 19, 2014

A Russian state of mind in Saranac

SARANAC — Composer Braam van Eeden’s “Allegory” premieres Sunday at Hill and Hollow Music.

In the Saranac United Methodist Church, globally acclaimed pianists Natalia Lavrova and Vassily Primakov will perform the Russian-inspired work on a vintage 1925 Steinway Model D.

“Allegory” is fresh out of van Eeden’s imagination. Sunday’s program features other van Eeden compositions as well as the late-romantic works of Anton Arensky’s “Twelve Pieces, op. 66” and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Six Morceaux, op. 11.”

“Basically what it was, Vassily and Natalia were playing an all-Russian program,” van Eeden said. “They asked me to compose a theme and variation on a theme of Tchaikovsky’s album for children (“Children’s Album: 24 Easy Pieces, for piano, Op. 39). The theme is a doll’s funeral. I started it. It came out very interesting and a lot more different than I planned.”


Nine variations comprise “Allegory,” which has fast and slow sections.

“And also what I did, what was very interesting, I put an intermezzo in the middle of it. I used one of Tchaikovsky’s themes from ‘Swan Lake.’”

Thematically, he started with a single melody.

“Just laying out the theme,” he said. “From there, I just expanded it and gave it a different character all the time.”


All his life, van Eeden admired the “Pas de Deux” from “Swan Lake.”

“I thought because of the structure of the piece, it has the theme and two slow variations, and then follows three fast variations, and then it suddenly stopped and you go into this slow, mysterious middle section and pops out with this beautiful melody in the intermezzo. It’s a beautiful contrast.”

The intermezzo is like syrup, thick and rich, on ice cream.

“It has that effect,” he said. “It’s the first time I composed for four-hand piano. It was quite a challenge for me. It wasn’t that easy for me. You have to make sure you have no collusion on the piano with the two players. It’s very interesting. I’m very excited to hear it because it has a lot of character in it, well I think. I don’t know what other people will think.”

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