The Russian composer Anton Arensky combined vivid elements of Russian Nationalism with an awareness of the work of the European romantics in a style which contained the prerequisites of the pianism of Rachmaninov and early Scriabin. The Three Suites demonstrate typically Russian attributes of humour, gravity and sparkling colour. Both the second and third Suites began life as piano duets. No. 2, ‘Silhouettes’, is a work from the same vein as Schumann’s Carnaval, in its five witty musical characterisations, and the Suite No. 3 is not so much a suite as an eclectic set of nine variations on a short vivid theme, which includes nods towards baroque and classical styles as well as the works of Chopin. The Suite No. 1 includes the Basso ostinato fourth movement which enjoyed a huge contemporary popularity.
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