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Prokofiev • A & N Tcherepnin: Piano Works

Alexander Gadjiev (piano) (Avi-music)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Prokofiev • A & N Tcherepnin
Prokofiev: Five Sarcasms; Visions fugitives; A Tcherepnin: Eight Pieces for Piano, Op. 88; 12 Preludes, Op. 85/1 & 2; Quatre Prélude Nostalgiques, Op. 23; N Tcherepnin: Six Musical Illustrations to Pushkin’s Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish, Op. 41
Alexander Gadjiev (piano)
Avi-music 8553494   75:36 mins

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Extremes of dynamics and registers, rapid shifts of mood, are the name of the game in this intriguingly constructed programme. Alexander Gadjiev’s palette is often too restricted in Prokofiev. He has the misfortune to follow a stunning set of Sarcasms on Daniil Trifonov’s Silver Age set, which begins much more ferociously. And in the wider-ranging Visions fugitives, No. 14 could likewise be more-hair raising; No. 15 should rise from a quieter and more atmospheric start – though 17 and 20 are ideally delicate.

I find it unforgivable that Gadjiev should skip six of the 20 pieces; this is a perfect sequence, as pianists like Jeremy Denk have shown us. True, Prokofiev the pianist and Richter often made selections, but of far fewer pieces – and Prokofiev’s 1935 recording has the best of his playing, in the respectively half-minute 5 and 6, omitted here. CD length would have allowed for the full set here.

The real reason to investigate this album is Gadjiev’s selection of pieces by Alexander Tcherepnin, eight years Prokofiev’s junior and another iconoclast on the Paris scene in the 1920s (his First Symphony contains a scherzo for percussion only). He’s relatively tamer than Prokofiev in the selection from the 1950s, but there’s plenty of range: Op. 88’s Reverie has Messiaenic clusters before a clear melody. No. 3 of the 1923 Preludes is a fine showcase for Gadjiev’s stormiest manner.

Alexander’s father Nikolay, a St Petersburg/Petrograd Conservatory tutor whom Prokofiev adored, is less distinctive in the intensely programmatic Six Musical Illustrations to Pushkin’s Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish – narration is needed here.

David Nice

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