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Quietude and Joy As Envisioned by Russian Painters

by Anton Batagov

Landscape I 09:23
Landscape II 11:44
Portrait 07:18


This piano suite was commissioned by The Manege exhibition center, Saint Petersburg, for the project Quietude and Joy. Music being played in exhibition halls is not a novelty. If you google for exhibition background music you will find collections of music ‘suitable’ for all sorts of exhibitions. This is similar to soundtrack libraries offering material for all sorts of movies. But in this case the idea was to create original music that will become an integral part of that particular exhibition while being a composition that could be performed live and released as an album.

With Quietude and Joy we embark on a journey through Russian paintings of 18th –19th – early 20th centuries with a kind of ideal life depicted on them. A life filled with beauty and harmony. It’s a state we’d love to memorize and prolong. The exhibition curator Semyon Mikhailovsky put it this way: “It’s an idyllic narrative of an art that had not enter the epoch of total transformation. Of course, history has been full of tragedies but we accentuate the tranquil, benevolent world where Italy is a place to find inspiration, the Russian nature is full of charm, and family circle is home to quiet homely joys.”

The curator here does the same thing a modern musician does when making music motivated not by a challenge of ‘conquering space and time’ but by an endeavour to hear harmony and quietude in the middle of today’s world’s aggressive hustle and psychosis. This exhibition invites people used to thinking of modern art as being represented by Banksy, and classical, by Malevich, to see old paintings in a new light. I believe this is a very meta-post-trans-modernist gesture. In short, I said yes, and composed a 60-minute suite.

Italy as a dream, as an image, as a point of reference – and its projection onto Russian art. Italy has always been a magical magnet attracting artists, writers and musicians. In music, Russian classical composers inspired by divine bel canto melodies planted them in Russian soil, and they sprouted not as imitation but as a sonic reality previously unheard of, bearing similarity to many things and, at the same time, absolutely unique in its magic and doleful joy. In the suite I have composed, the ‘theme of Italy’ appears several times – like the Promenade from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. It emerges from barely audible echoes, takes different shapes, gives way to other themes – and dissolves into the darkness of the new times.

Anton Batagov


released November 12, 2021

Commissioned by The Manege Exhibition Center, St.Petersburg 
Composed by: Anton Batagov, September 2021

Recorded by: Anton Batagov, Yamaha Artist Services Studio, Moscow, September 2021
Piano: Bösendorfer 185 Vienna Concert
Edited, mixed and mastered by: Anton Batagov
Dolby Atmos mastering by: Sergey Bolshakov, Flysound Studio

Cover by: Alisa Naremontti
Executive producer: Sergey Krasin

Special thanks to: Yamaha Music and Oksana Levko, Alexey Shubin, The Manege and Pavel Prigara, Martin Cooke


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FANCYMUSIC Moscow, Russia

FANCYMUSIC is a record label focused on contemporary new music recordings. FANCYMUSIC is a broad platform for a wide variety of contemporary new music composed by different russian musicians. FANCYMUSIC is also a platform on which newer names may be encountered. ... more

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