Russian Piano Music Series Volume 1 – Shostakovich and Comrades

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COMPOSERS: Kabalevsky,Myaskovsky,Shchedrin,Shostakovich,Stevenson
LABELS: Divine Arts
WORKS: Shostakovich: Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Kabalevsky: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F, Op. 46; Stevenson: Recitative and Air (DSCH); Myaskovsky: Song and Rhapsody, Op. 58; Shchedrin: Tschastuschki
PERFORMER: Murray McLachlan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: dda 25080

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Originally issued for Shostakovich’s centenary in 2006 (as Shostakovich and his Comrades), this disc now promises to be the first in a Divine Art series of Russian piano music. Murray McLachlan brings an eloquent intensity to the first movement of Kabalevsky’s Piano Sonata No. 3, and is equally at home in the slow movement’s touching vein of elegy and the harlequinesque finale.

Myaskovsky’s Song and Rhapsody is one of his most spontaneous and innately lyrical utterances; McLachlan has clear affection for the piece, as for Ronald Stevenson’s intensely elegiac Recitative and Air (DSCH). Shchedrin’s burlesque ‘concerto for solo piano’ Naughty Limericks stands at the opposite emotional pole, and is thrown off with all the requisite fizz.

But pride of place goes to Shostakovich’s two Sonatas. McLachlan’s performance of the furious and technically challenging First is very good indeed, on a par with Raymond Clarke’s version on Athena.

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In No. 2 the competition is fiercer (Nikolayeva on Hyperion, Lyubimov on ECM and Vladimir Viardo on Nonesuch, for instance), but McLachlan makes his personality felt in his firm delineation of the piece’s architecture and the intense lyricism he brings to its often bare textures. Calum MacDonald