Leonid Nikolayev (1878-1942) is probably best known for his piano students at the Leningrad Conservatory-among them are Dmitry Shostakovich, Maria Yudina, and Vladimir Sofronitsky. Shostakovich admired him as "a first-class musician and a man of great wisdom and learning.' Nikolayev studied piano and composition at the Moscow Conservatory and later settled in St. Petersburg (Leningrad), where he became a professor of piano in 1906. His compositional output includes symphonic and choral works, string quartets, and solo pieces for violin, cello, and piano. Nikolayev's numerous compositions, quite well-known during his lifetime, were mostly influenced by Russian Romantic traditions, especially those of Tchaikovsky. His piano writing is quite virtuosic, similar to his contemporary Sergei Rachmaninoff, with extensive use of thick chordal textures, imitations, and rich harmonies. The Violin Sonata, written in 1903, is an exciting composition in three movements. The first movement, in sonata form, is dramatic and intense. The first theme is agitated and contrasts the breath of fresh air provided by the second theme. The movement ends with a flashy, virtuosic coda with descending octaves in the piano. The middle movement is a typical slow movement with long, beautiful and sensuous melodic lines. The sonata ends with a fiery tarantella. One of the most important Russian Soviet composers since Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) wrote in a variety of traditional genres such as string quartets, symphonies and sonatas. He was also quite a prolific composer for the Soviet film industry. 'Suite (Sonata) in the Old Style' for violin and piano (1973) is a charming transcription of several movements from his film scores, with elements of neo-classical and baroque styles. The sweet Pastorale and the light and cheerful Ballet, the first and second movements respectively, are from a comedy about a dentist's romantic adventures. The melancholic Minuet and comical Pantomime, the third and fifth movements, are adaptations of scores from animated children's movies. The energetic fourth movement titled Fugue is from a documentary about a sportsman's life. Overall, the Suite reflects the varied sound world and creative imagination of Schnittke. The piece has been very popular since it's premiere, and the piano part has been arranged for harpsichord, string orchestra, and even percussion ensemble. Composer and pianist, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) wrote in all of the major classical genres including symphony, opera, ballet as well as smaller chamber works and numerous piano pieces. He is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century with his works being ultra modern and innovative. Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 94 was composed during the World War II while Prokofiev lived in a remote location in the Ural Mountains. During this period, the Soviet government kept prominent artists away from the warfront. This sonata was originally written for flute and piano and premiered in December 1943 in Moscow. A year later the great violinist David Oistrakh suggested that Prokofiev turn it into a violin sonata. Turning the flute part into a violin part involved remarkably little revision and required minimal changes. The only noticeable difference is the contrast between the timbres of the flute and violin with the latter having more "bite" and volume. As Prokofiev stated, this sonata has a "classical, clear, [and] transparent sonority.' Despite being written during the "war years," the work contains lyricism, humor, and warmth. The first movement of the sonata is in sonata form and contrasts singing melodic lines with energetic fast passages. The second movement is a scherzo and brings to life Prokofiev's wit. The third movement is elegant and sweet, which is reminiscent of French Impressionism. The Finale, contrasting the other movements, is robust and festive. Bulgarian violinist Chavdar Parashkevov has captivated audiences throughout Europe and the US with his sensual artistic approach, sensitivity, and virtuosic technique. He has been awarded a number of prizes from various national and international competitions. These include First Prize in the National Competition 'Svetoslav Obretenov' - Provadia, First Prize and a special prize for a Bach performance in 'Young Talents Competition' in Sofia, Second Prize in 'The Best Performance of Bulgarian Music' in Varna, Special Prize in a competition for the 'Best Performance of Czech and Slovak Music' in Varna. Mr. Parashkevov's diverse career has included numerous appearances with different orchestras. He has soloed with the Eskisehir Symphony in Turkey, the BAYS Symphony in Houston, TX, the Varna Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Schumen Philharmonic Orchestra and the 'L. Pipkov' Symphony Orchestra of in Sofia, Bulgaria. He regularly appears in recital and chamber music performances throughout the United States, in the Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Italy and Denmark. Throughout the years, Chavdar Parashkevov has studied with many renowned violinists, including Peter Hristoskov, Ginka Gichkova, Veronica Bogaertz, Thomas Hapanen, Takashi Shimizu and Nelli Shkolnikova. Chavdar is a graduate of the School for the Arts in Varna. In 1997, he came to the United States to continue his education with Edward Schmieder (Southern Methodist University) and Andjei Grabiec (The University of Houston). Currently, Chavdar combines performing and teaching careers, and plays for the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet Orchestras. In 2005 Chavdar and pianist Vessela Gintcheva released the CD 'Moto Perpetuo' featuring Bulgarian violin music. In May 2009 the CD was played on Space Shuttle Atlantis during mission STS 125 to the Hubbel space telescope, which made the news in Bulgarian media and press. Pianist Natasha Kislenko has concertized extensively in former USSR, Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain and the United States. Critics praise her "great artistry," "perfect technique," and "extraordinary richness of nuance and color." Previous solo engagements include the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, The Tbilisi Philharmonia, Georgia, the Lugansk Philharmonic Orchestra, Ukraine and Santa Barbara Symphony, CA. Natasha has performed chamber music with many distinguished artists including Sarah Chang, Zvi Zeitlin, James Buswell, and others. Natasha received top prizes at international piano competitions such as J.S. Bach competition in Germany and J.N. Hummel competition in the Slovak Republic, as well as in France, Italy, and Portugal. She made her Carnegie Hall solo recital debut after taking the Grand Prize at the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition in 1996. Born in Moscow, Natasha holds graduate degrees in piano from the famed Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Stony Brook University, NY. A faculty member at the Music Academy of the West, CA since 2004, Natasha joined the Keyboard faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 200. Previously, she served at California State University, Fresno for five years.