Glazunov: Piano Music, Vol. 1: Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2; Impromptus, Op. 54; Theme & Variations in F sharp minor, Op. 72

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Glazunov
LABELS: Bridge
WORKS: Piano Music, Vol. 1: Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2; Impromptus, Op. 54; Theme & Variations in F sharp minor, Op. 72
PERFORMER: Duane Hulbert (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 9102
This is music of dazzling fluency and charm, beautifully written for the piano, sonorous but never overloaded. The transparency of the first Impromptu (1896) suggests a sort of Russian Fauré and the second is equally elegant. The Variations (1900) are on a vaguely folk-like theme which is otherwise so insignificant that its fertility surprises, though there’s no pretence at Germanic profundity and the finale is robust but brief. The most important works here are the two sonatas, both written in 1901, and the only piano sonatas Glazunov wrote. There are several recordings to choose from, but why don’t more pianists play them in recitals? After hearing the First, Rimsky-Korsakov admitted to being jealous and couldn’t work for several days. It has a particularly attractive finale which begins rather like a scherzo before a more purposeful line emerges against a constant torrent of notes. The middle movement is generously Romantic, whereas the corresponding movement of the Second Sonata is a charming scherzo with delightful use of cross-rhythms. The finale here culminates in a fugue while managing not to sound academic. Immediately likeable music, though Bridge’s recording is shallow and while Duane Hulbert has good fingers and lots of energy, there’s room for more colour and depth of feeling. Adrian Jack

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