COMPOSERS: Erik Satie,Igor Stravinsky
ALBUM TITLE: Erik Satie • Igor Stravinsky
WORKS: Stravinsky: ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ Concerto in E flat (transcr. Stravinsky); Concerto for Two Pianos; Satie: Socrate (arr. Cage); Cinéma (arr. Milhaud)
PERFORMER: Alexei Lubimov, Slava Poprugin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Alpha ALPHA 230
Alexei Lubimov does not do run of the mill. Whatever the repertoire, he always manages to provide a fresh perspective founded not on gimmicks, but thoughtful integrity allied to insightful playing. This new exploration of Satie and Stravinsky is no exception. The latter’s Concerto for Two Pianos (without orchestra) is not unfamiliar on disc, though it is usually chaperoned by the earlier Sonata for Two Pianos (hopefully saved for a future disc?). Here, though, an often balletic performance of the Concerto is heard in the context of Stravinsky’s rarely heard two-piano version of the Concerto in E flat (Dumbarton Oaks). Unlike some other works, this comes across not as a pale imitation of orchestral textures, but an incisive, full-blooded, thoroughly idiomatic masterpiece for two pianos, using many similar pianistic gestures to the Concerto.
The Satie pieces are equally enthralling, Lubimov and Slava Poprugin perfectly capturing the insouciance of John Cage’s arrangement of the ballet Socrate. The choice of pianos, a 1920 Pleyel and 1906 Gaveau, enables a subdued yet colourful resonance. For Milhaud’s version of Cinéma, the Entr’acte Symphonique from Satie’s ballet Relache, Lubimov’s preparation of a 1909 Bechstein suggests an ensemble with percussion and banjos has joined the irresistible fray.