WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1 in C; Piano Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor; Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor; Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel; Chaconne in D minor from Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin (transcr. for left hand)
PERFORMER: Anatol Ugorski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 449 182-2
Ugorski is a pianist of dazzling technical prowess if somewhat suspect interpretative sense. He makes the opening of the First Sonata, with its famous echoes of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier, reasonably convincing, the variation movement is well sculpted and the finale has a certain punch. The Second Sonata, also, is not without its good points. Where Ugorski falls down with a thud is in the great F minor Sonata. The Allegro maestoso is sluggish and over-indulgent, lacking in cumulative momentum and robbed of its dramatic force – the ensuing Andante positively earthbound (15:16 mins, as against Clifford Curzon’s 11:44). Not until the fifth and final movement does Ugorski show what he could do with the whole work if he was not so ready to put the brakes on at quite inappropriate moments.
The Chaconne, also, is over-leisurely and, at 17:27 mins, takes about three minutes longer than it should. The Handel Variations are more persuasive, though even they get off to a laboured start and Ugorski kills the peroration of the culminating Fugue by slowing down for the final section.
If your main interest is in the three sonatas, Idil Biret, on budget-priced Naxos, is a version well worth buying. Wadham Sutton