Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin & Prokofiev

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Chopin & Prokofiev,Mendelssohn
LABELS: EMI Debut
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Navah Perlman
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Navah Perlman (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDZ 5 74019 2
Ian Fountain won the Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv in 1989 and this disc is not his first, even though it is on EMI’s Debut label. The rather recessed and reverberant recording suits the music he plays, all of it highly expressive, even feverish. In recitals Fountain has struck me as a coolly controlled player, but here there is no lack of passion and everything sounds fresh, as if felt for the first time. With a very wide dynamic range, he captures the chiaroscuro and volatility of Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata and has a good sense of its epic scale. He commands the grand style. Janácek’s highly original Sonata is urgent and angry, and its second movement sustained with a compelling sense of the inexorable. Berg’s Sonata is rejuvenated with a deep strength as well as delicacy, and in Scriabin’s Seventh Fountain suggests the impalpable with an acute sense of aural depth, while the recording acoustic suggests a luminous distance.

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The Russian Roustem Saitkoulov’s disc is enjoyable in a different way. His playing of Chopin’s second set of Études bears comparison with the very best, and the feeling of fingers being exercised is minimal. The first Study, for instance, is wonderfully smooth and effortless at quite a fast tempo. Saitkoulov never plays very loudly and withholds a proper fortissimo in the first of the Scriabin set. But he is deliciously delicate in these subtly textured pieces and captures the fugitive nature of the last beautifully. What an interesting programme it is, too, with Arensky’s cool fluency and early Studies by Stravinsky and Prokofiev which show them as part of the Russian bravura tradition. It’s a slight pity the recording is not quite clean.

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Navah Perlman’s disc suggests a well-groomed student with a high technical standard but a small, hard sound and nothing personal to express. Adrian Jack