B Tchaikovsky: Piano Quintet; The Last Spring

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COMPOSERS: B Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Piano Quintet; The Last Spring
PERFORMER: Natalia Burnasheva (mezzo-soprano), Sergey Bubnov (flute), Alexaner Ivanov (clarinet), Boris Tchaikovsky (piano); Prokofiev Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: FRC 9111 (ADD Reissue 1978/850


Boris Tchaikovsky’s language defies simple categorisation. His early music betrays some influence of his teacher Shostakovich, but he soon established an individual voice, manipulating simple ideas in a striking manner.

The Piano Quintet of 1962 reflects this process impressively, opening with a powerful Moderato in which the piano spins a seemingly endless melody punctuated by pithy musical commentary from the strings.

After the kaleidoscope of conflicting ideas in the middle two movements, the slow and halting passages of the final Adagio struggle towards achieving some kind of emotionally unequivocal resolution. A major addition to 20th-century piano quintet repertoire, it receives an authoritative performance from the composer and the admirable Prokofiev Quartet.

The later song-cycle The Last Spring is no less intriguing. Here the tonal figurations in the piano accompaniment seem to allude to a host of composers including Rachmaninov, Schubert and Fauré.


Yet the overall result is anything but derivative. The performance is very fine, though mezzo-soprano Natalia Burnasheva is placed too far forward to allow for a sufficient variety of dynamic range. Erik Levi