WORKS: Romeo and Juliet; Suggestion diabolique, Op. 4/4; Prelude, Op. 12/7; Gaspard de la nuit; Pavane pour une infante défunte
PERFORMER: Andrei Gavrilov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 437 532-2 DDD
Introducing this collection of pieces with a literary bent, Gavrilov writes persuasively of the synthesis of the arts and the power of musical imagery. But it’s as piano playing pure and simple that the disc will earn its place in collections. The recital has a strong, consistent personality, suited especially well to Prokofiev. Four staccato bangs like nails driven into a coffin start the Romeo and Juliet pieces. The pulse is firm, the tone bright and booming, reinforced by a larger-than-life acoustic. Yet as the music continues, energy and vitality emerge as the driving forces, and the precision of touch and balance is kept alive with singing tone.
Gavrilov brings off some stunning feats of technique, from quietly controlled upward slides in Prokofiev’s Prelude to internal cross currents in the ‘Scarbo’ theme from Gaspard de la nuit that most players don’t notice and the rest couldn’t play if they did. For all the excitement here, though, this is lyrical Ravel, and the other two pieces in Gaspard are like long chains of unbroken melody. The performance’s evocative qualities are less devastating, but as an experience of musical directness and physical excitement it is worth anybody’s time. Robert Maycock