From Canvas to Score

Airat Ichmouratov's orchestral suite Picture Gallery, based on the works of Natasha Turovsky.

It all started many years ago when Yuli Turovsky asked me to compose a piece for trio (cello, clarinet and piano) with string orchestra. I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. While looking at Natasha Turovsky’s paintings, you can practicably hear music behind it, so I started to write it down… this is how Fantastic Dances was born. Three pieces for Trio and Strings with percussion inspired by three paintings from Natasha. Yuli and Eleonora Turovsky liked them so much that they proposed to record them for the Analekta label right after the first performance with I Musici de Montreal.

Later, my good friend and wonderful clarinetist Mark Simons requested a piece for clarinet and string quartet. Once more, I thought about Natasha’s paintings. Since Mark had a beautiful boat and we spent a great deal of time together sailing, Natasha’s Windcatcher was a perfect fit! I also made an adaptation of this piece for clarinet and string orchestra.

And finally, when I was commissioned by Les Violons du Roy for a cello concerto to be played by cellist Yeagor Dyachkov, I already knew which titles each movement would have – Intrigues, Repentance and Moto Perpetuo, after three expressive paintings by Natasha Turovsky. To finalize the suite, one more piece for Trio and Strings with Percussion inspired by Natasha’s most recent painting entitled Final Procession.

Composing music based on Natasha Turovsky’s paintings was a unique experience. It was like jumping in a fantastic world of surrealistic characters, where everything is possible… Yuli Turovsky once said: “you should hear the paintings and see the music”. I am more than happy to share this idea from our beloved Teacher and Maestro and to show what I heard while listening to the sounds of the magnificent paintings by Natasha Turovsky…

By Airat Icmouratov (2013)

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