Voyage En Russie
Carried to Russia on the wings of Rimsky-Korsakov’s nifty Bumblebee (the CD’s opening track, heard in Rachmaninov’s celebrated transcription), listeners to Claire-Marie Le Guay’s new release are promised a refreshing programme exploring both the highways and byways of Russian piano music. In the latter category, most of Tchaikovsky’s smaller piano works indeed remain sadly neglected, so it is good to hear a scattering here. And although she brings out their poetry and reveals witty dexterity in that Flight of the Bumblebee, Le Guay is no match for the great interpreters in certain cornerstones of the repertory. Her Rachmaninov Preludes (the G minor from Op. 23 and the famous C sharp minor, Op. 2 No. 3) in particular sound blunt and undercharacterised.
In a programme that also briefly alights on Borodin and Musorgsky, there is a more successful thread running through in the form of some early Scriabin pieces. Here we hear the Russian composer’s open admiration for Chopin as he explores some of the Pole’s most characteristic forms, and one of the Op. 3 Mazurkas is very beautifully played. But there is too much flitting from one miniature to another on a disc that comes to rest with one of Scriabin’s last works, Vers la flamme, Op. 72. Overall, the 18 tracks fail to really add up, certainly not to what the disc’s blurb optimistically calls a ‘musical icon [reflecting] the vast Russian landscapes’.