Chopin: Ballades Nos 1-4;
Liszt: Three Petrarch Sonnets; Scriabin: Two Poems, Op. 32; Sonata No. 4, Op. 30
Anna Fedorova (piano)
Channel Classics CCS 42219 69:27 mins
Storytelling and poetry are threaded imaginatively through Anna Fedorova’s new album, so it is fitting that she opens with Chopin’s four Ballades. It’s no accident that the composer attached a literary term to these pieces, for in each he was telling a story and they are best understood in terms of the operatic ballade and earlier forms harking back to medieval and folkloric sources. The Ukrainian pianist unfolds them spaciously and even suspensefully.
Some pianists supply more elegance in this music, but Fedorova puts it in interesting context, following the Ballades with the Three Petrach Sonnets of Liszt, where she brings out their sense of bel canto. Scriabin’s Two Poems inhabit completely contrasting moods – in their very different ways both are completely Scriabinesque – and set the stage for the shortest of his Sonatas, No. 4, where the first movement’s drift towards atonality is captured in ethereal playing. Even the second movement’s virtuosity is delicately delivered, with a sweep that looks back to Chopin. Scriabin provided his own poem for this sonata, and it is reproduced in the booklet alongside Petrach and some Mickiewicz (a possible inspiration for Chopin’s Third Ballade). Most pertinently, ‘poetic’ is the best description for all Fedorova’s playing.