Bacri: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3; Fantaisie, Op. 134; Myaskovsky: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3; Eccentricities, Op. 25
Sabine Weyer (piano)
Ars Produktion ARS 38 313 74:33 mins
In principle, it was a striking idea to pair Russian and Soviet music’s most lugubrious voice, Nikolay Myaskovsky, with a much more recent composer influenced by his oppressive style, Frenchman Nicolas Bacri. In practice, this is way too much to take, though listen to the four sonatas – two by each composer – in isolation and there’s much to admire, at least, for the authenticity of their despair.
Most companionable is Myaskovsky’s pre-First World War Third Sonata: the lyrical theme in it provides a Scriabinesque lightening of the mood, and the introduction of the Dies Irae provides another contrast, if much of the same predominant heavy weather. Bacri’s obsessive qualities come to the fore in the hypnotic oscillations of his Third Sonata. Relief of sorts only comes in the miniature Prichudy (translated here as ‘Eccentricities’) in which Myaskovsky pays homage to the Sarcasms and Visions fugitives of his good friend Prokofiev. There’s some dynamic lightness here, too; the sonatas would benefit from a much wider range, with more extremes of loud and soft. On this evidence Sabine Weyer is a formidable technician, but a mezzo-fortist kind of musician.