LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 5; Piano Sonata No. 7; Tales of an Old Grandmother; Four Pieces, Op. 32
PERFORMER: Peter Dmitriev (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 93316 2
Uncertainties of tone and style in Dmitriev’s first Prokofiev volume (reviewed in August 2002) continue here, but they’re more generously spread across a wider representative sequence of the composer’s sonatas and piano pieces early, middle and late. Dmitriev’s virtues of clarity, precision and weight are well enough suited to the Parisian experiment of the Fifth Sonata, heard here in the 1953, Soviet-era revision. He also makes a continuous argument out of the four elusive Tales of an Old Grandmother and spins gauze out of the surprising slow waltz of Op. 32.
Disappointments, unfortunately, weigh too heavily in the balance. After the monochrome, Rachmaninov-inspired First Sonata – which a more questing spirit like Frederic Chiu manages to bring to life – the contrasts of the Third, another youthful inspiration revisited, need more highlighting; the simple, diatonic second subject should sound more wistful, the development even more aggressively dissonant, the coda more precipitate.
The same lack of imaginative dynamism sometimes mars the Seventh, too, even if Dmitriev certainly has all of its treacherous notes under his fingers. It’s the more subjective elements urged by Prokofiev’s tempo markings that are missing: no uneasy spirit ruffles the dancing and the percussive strings of the opening Allegro inquieto, and no headlong tension propels the Precipitato finale, too-correctly played. This is not the kind of performance which the booklet notes tell us led poet Mayakovsky to describe the Seventh as ‘a slap in the face of public taste’ – rather unlikely, in any case, as he had been dead for some years by the time of its composition. David Nice