WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1 in B flat minor; Suite on the Name SASCHA; Three Miniatures, Op. 42; Valse de salon, Op. 43; Grande valse de concert, Op. 41; Waltzes on the Theme SABELA; Solo Piano Music, Vol. 2: Theme and Variations, Op. 72; Two Prelude-Improvisation
PERFORMER: Stephen Coombs (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66833/66844 DDD
These two discs constitute the first half of Hyperion’s projected release of Glazunov’s complete music for solo piano. Glazunov was born in 1865 – the same year as Sibelius and Nielsen – and his music is Romantic and tuneful, with hints of contemporaries like Arensky and Lyadov, though without their degree of nationalism. The Suite on the Name SASCHA, written when he was 18, impressed Liszt, and it is easy to see what this towering master found in the virtuoso keyboard writing of the young Russian.
The sound Glazunov’s music makes is deceptive. Even the most seemingly straightforward works are fearfully virtuosic, and his output ranges from suave salon pieces like the Trois Morceaux, Op. 49, and the various waltzes, to the two mammoth Sonatas, the first of which appears in Vol. 1.
Coombs is clearly equipped to face the most prodigious demands, but he is never afraid to let the music breathe; and he is masterly in the refined art of disentangling melodies from accompaniments, even when they are buried in the middle of the texture, and in preventing the accompaniments from overwhelming the melodies – a frequent problem in Glazunov’s music. This is a most impressive and highly enjoyable release.