Bach, Foulds, Handel, Beethoven, Corigliano, Schumann and Prokofiev

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Corigliano,Foulds,Handel,Schumann and Prokofiev
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Transcendent Journey
WORKS: Works by Bach, Foulds, Handel, Beethoven, Corigliano, Schumann and Prokofiev
PERFORMER: Juan José Chuquisengo (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 93829
Mixed recital discs may be nightmares for librarians and record-shop owners. But they can make the experience of listening to a whole CD – for instance on a long car journey – rather more satisfying than 70-plus minutes of one composer. This is a very well planned, highly original programme – definitely a ‘journey’, though ‘transcendent’ is open to dispute. The Peruvian-born pianist Juan José Chuquisengo – clearly an enormously accomplished and unusually sensitive player – starts with the serenity of the two Bach chorale preludes and John Foulds’s exquisite Gandharva-Music, then moves to open expressions of joy in Handel’s G major Chaconne and Fould’s April-England (its staggering quasi-improvisatory central section somewhere between Bach, Busoni and Keith Jarrett). Then comes minor key mystery in the Allegretto from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (the Liszt arrangement), followed by John Corigliano’s altogether darker modern meditation on the Beethoven, Fantasia on an ostinato. More Bach leads to dangerous elation in Schumann’s Toccata followed finally by cathartic savagery in Prokofiev’s Toccata in D minor.

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It might be hard to believe, but throughout this wide-ranging programme Chuquisengo is masterly, revealing an extraordinary range of colour and expression, from frail, distant pianissimo in the Corigliano to coruscating brilliance in April-England, from touching delicacy in Gandharva-Music to concentrated violence in the Prokofiev. A slightly brighter recording would have made the experience perfect. As it is, this is a remarkable disc. Stephen Johnson