Anna Vinnitskaya: Rachmaninov, Ravel , Prokofiev

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev,Rachmaninov,Ravel
LABELS: Ambroisie
WORKS: Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 2; Gubaidulina: Chaconne; Medtner: Sonata Reminiscenza, Op. 38/1; Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 7
PERFORMER: Anna Vinnitskaya (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AM 177

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 As winner of the 2007 Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition and the 2008 Leonard Bernstein Award, Russian-born pianist Anna Vinnitskaya is clearly a name to reckon with. Her imaginatively devised and vividly recorded programme juxtaposes late-Romantic bravura (Rachmaninov and Medtner) with the more acerbic language of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata and Gubaidulina’s abrasive Chaconne.

There’s little doubt that she has the measure of each work, demonstrating not only formidable technical control but also a truly remarkable range of tonal colouring.

One might quibble that in adopting a more reflective pose in the opening movement of the Rachmaninov (here in the later 1931 version) she doesn’t always convey the composer’s prescribed Allegro agitato. Yet there’s no denying the sheer beauty and richness of her sound, the central movement presented in a particularly haunting manner. The Medtner, too, is spellbinding with a veiled quality that captures the music’s sense of nostalgia as well as its fragility.

Gubaidulina’s rugged Chaconne of 1962, mixing strongly percussive writing with more enigmatic and withdrawn passages, is a highly accessible work played here with tremendous brilliance. Finally Vinnitskaya offers an extremely compelling account of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata with a terrifyingly relentless Finale.

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By opting for an unusually fast and furious tempo for much of the first movement she certainly conveys the music’s sense of unease, though some might argue that in the slow movement her approach is too chilly, somewhat in contradiction to Prokofiev’s marking of Andante caloroso. Erik Levi