Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas Nos 1-5

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Avie
WORKS: Piano Sonatas: No. 1 in F minor, Op. 1; No. 2 in D minor, Op. 14; No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28; No. 4 in C minor, Op. 29; No. 5 in C (revised version), Op. 135
PERFORMER: Alexandra Silocea (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Avie AV 2183

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On the evidence of this recording debut, Romanian pianist Alexandra Silocea is both musically tasteful and clearly devoted to Prokofiev’s Sonatas. One rarely hears Prokofiev’s often fiendish technical demands taken on so coolly and articulated so clearly as Silocea does here, notably in the dramatic pauses of Sonata No. 2’s first movement. However, I must admit that hearing her recital left me longing for some essential qualities.

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Dramatic contrasts asked for by Prokofiev are often muted: even in Sonata No. 1, perhaps the most successfully characterised of the works, her distinction between the opening fortissimo and piano sounds more like a polite distinction between mezzo-forte and mezzo-piano. And both Sonatas Nos 2 and 3 surely need more ferocity and sparkle. In Silocea’s hands, the finale of No. 2 is limpid, almost ‘classical’ in feel rather than bubbling and exhilarating, while the finale of No. 4 comes across as an amiable toccata rather than the brilliant showpiece that is implied by the marking Allegro con brio. I’d urge those who prefer a bit more character, impetuosity and good old-fashioned showmanship in this repertoire to invest in Oleg Marshev’s recordings on Danacord. Daniel Jaffé