Rachmaninov, Szymanowski, Debussy, Chopin

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Debussy,Rachmaninov,Szymanowski
LABELS: Classical Recording Company
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Recital
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2; Preludes, Op. 1; Images, Book 2; Impromptus, Opp. 29 & 51
PERFORMER: Carolyn Kotok (piano)
The choice of works here doesn’t suggest a strong programme concept, and falls into related blocks. Perhaps it should have been still more varied. Does it really enhance Szymanowski’s short Preludes if we hear them as a complete set? Do we really need another recording of Rachmaninov’s Second Sonata? You may argue it is overblown, but it sounds merely cropped in the composer’s 1931 version recorded here, for Rachmaninov took too much notice of critics. That said, Kotok not only gets round Rachmaninov’s demands without strain, but plays with luscious warmth and a keen ear for the piano’s resonance rather than its percussive qualities. This makes her Debussy melting and sonorous, and acutely balanced. She seems to have fewer ideas when it comes to rhythmic shaping, so that the Chopin pieces have less character than they might. And the disc as a whole, which I presume is Kotok’s recording debut, leaves me wondering what her artistic personality really is. Adrian Jack