Stravinsky: Solo Piano Music

Oxana Shevchenko (Delphian)

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Stravinsky Solo Piano Music
Oxana Shevchenko (piano)
Delphian DCD34203 115:55 mins (2 discs)

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It is surprising there is not more. The piano was central to Stravinsky’s creativity throughout his career, being a compositional tool at which ideas could be manipulated and new textures and sonorities could be discovered. Despite this, he wrote relatively little for the instrument beyond miniatures, occasional works, or pieces related to orchestral canvasses. By far the longest work is the early Sonata in F sharp minor, which is clearly from Stravinsky’s compositional apprenticeship. By comparison, the later Sonata from 1924 and Serenade in A (1925) may each be barely a third the length, but they are musically far more substantive. Indeed, it is a mark of Stravinsky’s genius that even an apparently trivial work, such as Les cinq doigts, putatively a set of exercises for beginners, grabs the attention, especially in this spiky, yet charming performance from Oxana Shevchenko. Whether scintillating in the fearsome Three Movements from Petrushka, nonchalant in the mis-steps of the Tango or coolly detached in the chorale from Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Shevchenko’s pianism reflects the nuances of Stravinsky’s varying approaches, captured in wonderfully lucid, vibrant sound by Delphian. If there is a slight caveat, it is Shevchenko’s control of tempo. Given its virtuosic challenges, it may be harsh to note that she struggles to maintain the pace she sets at the start of the ‘Infernal Dance’ from Guido Agosti’s Firebird transcription. And yet, the pace also drags noticeably in the Sonata’s slow movement. Regardless, the overall sense is of a sizzling, bracing complete survey.

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Christopher Dingle