ALBUM TITLE: Diana Gabrielyan
WORKS: Works by Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Babajanian and Mansurian
PERFORMER: Diana Gabrielyan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ODRCD311
The recording label Odradek is nothing if not high-minded. It works only with musicians who have a passion for little-known areas of the repertoire, placed in thought-provoking juxtaposions. The label’s latest release is an intriguing melange of Russian and Soviet piano music, from young Armenian pianist Diana Gabrielyan.
Throughout she displays a clear, delicate touch, and a refusal to grandstand even when the virtuoso nature of the music invites it. The varying moods of the fascinating Sonata Op. 11 by Shostakovich come to vivid life under her hands. It’s rarely heard, but the set of pieces by Arno Babajanian are even rarer. His Elegy is like a film composer’s imitation of Rachmaninov, but Gabrielyan saves it from kitschiness by a noble understatement.
Babajanian’s later set of Six Pictures are remarkably bold, mingling 12-note method with Armenian folk music. The pieces by Tigran Mansurian are even bolder in their Boulez-like pedalled sonorities. Gabrielyan brings out the varied colours of this music, but it’s the clutch of pieces by Stravinsky which really reveal her musical intelligence. The Piano Sonata can sound dry as dust, but in the slow movement Gabrielyan reveals the dignified lyricism lurking under the music’s brittle surface.