Stravinsky: Solo Piano Works

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COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
LABELS: Steinway & Sons
ALBUM TITLE: Stravinsky: Solo Piano Works
WORKS: Piano Sonata; Etudes; Piano-Rag music; Serenade in A; Circus Polka; Pologue to Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov; Two Sketches of a Sonata; Firebird Suite (arr. Agosti); Ragtime; Polka; Tango; Valse
PERFORMER: Jenny Lin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 30028

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Stravinsky composed at the piano and was a good enough pianist to tour his concertos between the wars. Yet he wrote little original solo piano music. The most substantial scores here are his early Four Etudes, Op. 7 (1908), the neo-Bach-cum-Beethoven Piano Sonata (1924) and the graceful galant four-movement Serenade (1925). The rest are mainly brief frolics, ranging from the curiously disorganised Piano Rag Music (1919), by way of the laconic Tango (1940) he composed on settling in America, hoping it would earn him lots of dollars, to the tiny Two Sketches of a Sonata (1967), a work he never completed. Jenny Lin fills out her new CD with Stravinsky’s piano reductions of his Ragtime for 11 instruments (1918) and Circus Polka (1942), and of the Prologue to Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov, plus a virtuoso transcription by her own teacher Guido Agosti of the last three numbers of Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Lin brings plenty of flair to the latter, and is exceptionally successful in clarifying the finger-twisting polyrhythms of the Four Etudes. Yet she fails quite to emulate the incisive yet contained attack of Stravinsky’s own pianism as heard in his 1934 recording of the Serenade; nor, in her efficient but rather monochrome delivery of the Piano Sonata can she match the wit and refinement of nuance of Charles Rosen’s classic recording.

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Bayan Northcott