Sonatina Op. 100

This piece by Russian composer/pianist Nikolai Kapustin is a dream composition for all who have OCD with numbers. Written in 2000, it is quite a simple piece compared to Kapustin’s other piano music.

Kapustin is thought of in the classical world as a classical composer who uses jazz idioms, but the Captain believes this to be rubbish. He will argue that Kapustin, on the contrary, is a jazzer at heart who happens use standard classical titles. Perhaps if he had titled his works with “jazzier” titles the perception of him would change.

The Sonatina itself is the only of the kind written by Kapustin, and it begins ironically with a very classic ending riff in jazz in which the bass goes up the scale using the degrees 1, 3, 4, #4, 5, followed by a cadence:Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 9.40.03 AM.png

The piece also contains jazz cadences such as the following one. In addition to the upper extension voices (9th, 11th, 13th), note the Movement down throughout the whole line. The first chord could pass as a rootless D chord with an added 6th which moves down to a C13 chord (if the chord has a 6th degree with a 7th, it is a 13th chord – without the 7th it is just called a 6th). Then it moves down to a B9 chord before going to an Eb9 chord. Because of the voicing in the right hand being as it is, the bass could be a tritone substitution for Bb (meaning it the bass was a Bb instead, it would still be a dominant chord), which carries the descending progression to A7 before a riff in the bass goes down to D. See the descent continue in the last two measures as well:

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 9.45.16 AM.png

And of course, as in any other jazz piano piece, it is full of saucy right hand licks like this:

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 9.45.45 AM.png


Publishers of Kapustin’s music include:

  • Schott Music

Notable performers with recordings of this piece include:

  • Ilya Petrov
  • Kapustin himself

Captain Thaddius’ Hot Take:

Kapustin’s music is great if you want to play jazz but either don’t know how OR need people to believe you are playing classical music. The harmonies, licks, and left hand bass patterns are tricky but very enjoyable to learn. This specific piece is one of the most approachable Kapustin pieces that undergrads could have a go at.


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