Prokofiev • Shostakovich
Prokofiev: Violin Sonata in F minor No. 1, Op 80; Shostakovich: Violin Sonata in G major, Op 134
Natalia Prishepenko (violin), Dina Ugorskaja (piano)
CAvi-music AVI 8553425 59:17 mins
These two dark and powerful sonatas by the greatest Russian masters of the 20th century are too close in mood to work on the same concert programme, but it’s surprising they don’t form companion pieces more often on CD. As Tatjana Frumkis notes in a detailed and eloquent liner note, Shostakovich knew Prokofiev’s work – which was begun in 1938 and not completed until 1946 – through the violinist who meant the most to both of them, David Oistrakh. In writing his own Violin Sonata to mark Oistrakh’s 60th birthday, Shostakovich reflected the stalking piano octaves and the driven quality of Prokofiev’s scherzo. The latter, unfortunately, isn’t nearly fierce enough in this performance.
The introduction to the Prokofiev promises well, and Natalia Prishepenko handles as well as any top violinist the spectral ‘wind in the graveyard’ over gentle piano chimes which reappears in the finale. Prokofiev’s finale works (just) as lighter and more scherzoid than usual, but single and double forte don’t register fully enough, and close, dryish sound gives them every chance to hit home.
That’s a pity, because there are intelligence and technique aplenty from both players. Prishepenko‘s intonation is spot on; she makes lovely work of singing melodies when they appear, and the earnestness is never in doubt, though a stronger line is forged in the Shostakovich Sonata. Dina Ugorskaja is briefly taxed by huge writing in the big Shostakovich finale, but partners sensitively. In short, performances you’d be happy to hear in concert, but not perhaps for CD keeps.