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Hahn: Poèmes & Valses

Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) (Hyperion)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Hahn
Le rossignol éperdu; Premières valses
Pavel Kolesnikov (piano)
Hyperion CDA68383   66:35 mins

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We are told that Pavel Kolesnikov is ‘celebrated for his imaginative and thought-provoking programming’, and nobody can argue with that. The trouble starts when imagination also impinges too forcefully on the musical text.

On the credit side, Kolesnikov’s idea of having the Yamaha CDX tuned ‘to maximise the extreme sensitivity of the keys, with closely positioned microphones’ works extremely well, and his control at piano and below is faultless. Although nothing is said about 2022 marking the 75th anniversary of Hahn’s death, fans of the composer cannot but be happy to listen to a less familiar side of his talent. The 25 pieces here are all short, only two lasting above five minutes and, though there are brief moments of barnstorming, the tone is mostly in Hahn’s familiar lyrical mode, even if here seasoned every now and then with unsettled chromaticism.

On the debit side, the pianist often deals ‘imaginatively’ with the text, so that pauses are inserted, marked dynamics and pedalling ignored and, most damagingly, in the final piece ‘Ouranos’ the marking ‘excessivement lent’ observed, but not the explanatory printed tempo marking of quaver=48; instead we have quaver=25, which makes nonsense of the music. And there was surely room on the disc for the tiny ‘Invitation à la valse’ which opens the collection of Premières Valses.

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Roger Nichols