Russian Piano Sonatas Vol.1: Balakirev, Glazunov, Kosenko | Piano Classics PCL10159

Russian Piano Sonatas Vol.1: Balakirev, Glazunov, Kosenko


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Label: Piano Classics

Cat No: PCL10159

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 7th September 2018



After his ‘outstanding’ (The Guardian) series of Piano Classics albums dedicated to the music of Alkan, Vincenzo Maltempo turns to repertoire that also belongs to the post-Romantic age of sweeping eloquence and high-flown fantasy, growing out of the work of Liszt and Brahms, whose concertos featured on Maltempo’s most recent Piano Classics recording (PCL10145). Here are three sonatas from the ‘Silver Age’ of Russian music from the turn of the last century, all exploiting a virtuoso technique to the full.

The narrative arc and harmonies of Robert Schumann’s music make their mark on the rippling arpeggios and ardent lyricism of the Second Sonata by Alexander Glazunov. The Guardian also praised Maltempo’s handling of Schumann on a recent album of the Sonata op.14 and other, less-familiar works: with his ‘intimate, delicately coloured accounts’, ‘it’s clear in every phrase here that Maltempo is much, much more than just an Alkan specialist.’

Least known of the composers here is the Ukrainian Victor Kosenko (1896-1938), whose sonatas have long attracted pianists in search of grand statements in the Lisztian tradition. The three movements of the Second are laid out on a relatively compact scale that belies their technical demands and majestic vein of expression; any listener who appreciates the architecture of Medtner’s sonatas will find much to enjoy in Kosenko.

The four-movement sonata by Balakirev begins with a modestly self-contained Andantino but builds through a stamping mazurka and ardent intermezzo to a finale of exhilarating drive and passion on the scale of the composer’s Islamey which remains a barnstorming showpiece for virtuoso pianists at the highest level. On this showing, Maltempo may certainly be counted among them.

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