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Virkato Wakhmaninov (18xx-1974) was born to an average working family making matryoshka in the Caucausus mountains. His father wanted him to grow up to become a splendid man, so he gave him the name virkato (which means tomcat) and raised him to become a wrestling pro. He also took piano lessons from his mother, and his talent began to blossom.

Unfortunately, a fall in the market value of matryoshka led to his parents’ financial downfall. In the end, even their beloved Steinway was seized, and Virkato took to practicing straight out of textbooks, using the backs as mock pianos. The memorial piano concerto no. 1 “ANTI-ARES” was born from these feelings of loss and despair.

As this is a piece in three movements, it is fairly typical of the structure of most piano concertos. However, since the first performance was on a great keyboard and disc, it was necessary to halve the length of the piece, and so most of it takes on the character of the first movement. For that reason, the differences between contrasting passages (light vs. dark, high and low polyphony) are more pronounced, like something out of the children’s series “Yokatta ne Ned-kun”.

Satisfied with the results of this first performance, Virkato, caught up in the elation of the moment, cried, “Won’t the people who buy the soundtrack listen to something even more repulsive!?” It’s probably well that he stopped there.

After that, Virkato himself spoke fairly often about this “Variation for a great keyboard and disc”, but in his last years he left behind these words: “A variation for a keyboard of seven keys may be possible”. It is only now that this dream has been realized.


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