Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 8; Piano Sonata No. 9; Toccata, Op. 11

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 8; Piano Sonata No. 9; Toccata, Op. 11
PERFORMER: Peter Dmitriev (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 85291 2
This young Russian pianist’s Prokofiev cycle plunges in at the deep end with the Eighth Sonata, only to touch the bottom all too easily. Not everyone needs to emulate Richter’s deep, sustained examination of Prokofiev’s most introspective vein, but the alternative approach has to be focused if it takes a faster-flowing course; Dmitriev merely substitutes washes of sustaining-pedal for an intelligent shaping of the lines. The whirlwind which rips in to the heart of the first movement is a different matter, clear and tenacious with the legacy of the Russian piano school providing resonant ballast. In the central minuet, the melodic phrases emerge clearly through the variations but the dreamy quality Prokofiev explicitly demands is absent; and the finale fatally loses some of its drive towards the end.


At a crucial point here and in the Andante tranquillo of the Ninth Sonata, though, Dmitriev shows he is capable of the special wistfulness Prokofiev’s most withdrawn later style demands; so why he glides abstractedly over the surface of the Ninth’s opening and makes so little of the two-part invention at the centre of its scherzo is a puzzle. If, as Richter wrote of the Ninth’s apparent simplicity, ‘the more you hear it, the more you come to love it and feel its magnetism’, then Dmitriev has many performances to go. The obstreperousness of the early Toccata is more to his liking, but it needs to begin more furtively – pp, says Prokofiev, yet this is mf at the start – to achieve its full impact. David Nice