LABELS: Harmonia Mundi Saison Russe
WORKS: Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet; Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor; March and Scherzo from The Love of Three Oranges
PERFORMER: Alexander Guindin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RUS 288161
One transcription Chiu doesn’t uncover with this last instalment, or anywhere else, in his exhilarating Prokofiev series, is the potpourri of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade. Guindin has reconstructed it from (I presume) the piano-roll version pandering to Prokofiev’s American public and avoiding every creative touch in its nine-minute snippets. Guindin’s cocktail-bar vamping on Korsakov’s ‘Young Prince and Princess’ has no precedent in the composer’s performance as recreated on the LP I have, so he may just have been listening to a bad reproducing piano. Still, his grand manner here is more apt than the composer-pianist’s unfeeling charge, and very much in the line of Russian orchestral pianism. It’s commanding but monotonous, more suited to the Second Sonata’s weighty first-movement climax and the thunderous stridings of Montagues and Capulets than the buoyancy of the young Juliet or the Oranges scherzo.
Turn to Chiu’s Oranges March after Guindin’s and the superior spring of the playing, dynamic nuance and subtle toying with the rhythms are obvious. His centrepiece is the interesting Divertissement, its slow movement anxiously striving for the new melody many believed Prokofiev had lost sight of in the late 1920s. The rest is sheer elan, especially in the brilliantly adapted sisters’ quarrels from Cinderella and Chiu’s intelligent homage to Lieutenant Kije, with superb pianistic handling of the balalaika-thrumming in the famous ‘Troika’. David Nice