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Neo (Oda Voltersvik)

Oda Voltersvik (piano) (Rubicon)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Neo
Sofia Gubaidulina: Chaconne; Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 2; Scriabin: Fantasy in B minor; Shostakovich: Piano Sonata No. 2
Oda Voltersvik (piano)
Rubicon RCD1059   71:28 mins

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Neo-classicism was a term first applied to Stravinsky’s work in 1923, but as an aesthetic it had been taking hold some years previously. Offering a bracing dip in the cool waters of Classicism after Romanticism overheated, neo-classical works hark back to a musical past, sometimes admiringly, or with irony. It’s a fruitful concept around which to build a piano recital, as Oda Voltersvik does in her all-Russian programme. There’s not a note of Stravinsky, but instead four pieces in brooding minor keys by Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Gubaidulina. Scriabin’s rarely heard Fantasie in B minor sets the scene, a one-movement piece of pure late Romanticism, the love-child of Chopin, Liszt and Wagner. Voltersvik allows its lyricism to shine through the virtuosic demands.

Given Voltersvik’s contention that Prokofiev’s Second Sonata finds the young composer looking to the future, it seems odd that her pianistic approach feels so Romantic, more apt for Brahms. Agile and characterful, yes, but is there the necessary daring and mercurial temperament to make Prokofiev’s creation feel fully alive? Shostakovich’s austere Piano Sonata in B minor, written in 1943, fares better, thanks to Voltersvik’s nimble fingers, clarity of line and focused energy. She draws us into the composer’s unsettled world, in which a restless Allegretto and angular Largo lead to the spare, lonely lines of the final Moderato. Gubaidulina’s Chaconne provides a suitably monumental conclusion.

Rebecca Franks

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