Piano Sonata in E flat minor; Mazurkas; Tears; Variations, etc
Peter Jablonski (piano)
Ondine ODE 1383-2 73:46 mins
The mysterious and untimely death of Alexey Stanchinsky (1888-1914) is generally agreed to have deprived Russian music of a significant voice. Even in life he cut a tragic figure, but his surviving music (nearly all for piano, though he also left ten song settings of Robert Burns) offers a tantalising glimpse of what might have been. It’s very much of its time and place, sitting somewhere between Scriabin and Prokofiev yet connected to a wider culture – Stanchinsky was a disciple of Taneyev, and even played for Tolstoy. Everything on this disc was written between 1903 and 1913.
In the words of Stanchinsky expert Irina Lopatina, his music juxtaposes ‘sublime lyricism with gloomy fantasy’. Both are on show in the early Sonata in E flat minor. For all its concision there are moments that almost ramble, yet the work holds one’s attention thanks to the flexibility of Peter Jablonski’s playing. A nocturne, two sets of preludes and a pair of mazurkas all suggest formal echoes of Chopin; the earlier preludes are attractive, some of the later ones demand and receive virtuosity, though the writing can sound awkward. Having recorded mazurkas by Chopin, Szymanowski, Scriabin and Maciejewski, the pianist makes these ones a highlight here. Jablonski also captures the haunting, folk-like character of the Variations from 1911, the year Stanchinsky began his Sketches which make a fine climax to this rewarding disc.