COMPOSERS: Musorgsky Prokofiev Scriabin
ALBUM TITLE: Musorgsky Prokofiev Scriabin
WORKS: Pictures at an Exhibition
PERFORMER: Boris Giltburg (piano
CATALOGUE NO: 353 2322
Any young pianist of character is going to stand or fall by launching with Pictures at an Exhibition.
22-year old Russian Boris Giltburg is completely inside Musorgsky’s multiple personalities, offering a few intriguing stylistic kinks in ‘Gnomus’ and ‘Samuel Goldenburg and Schmuyle’ without ever going as perversely far as a player like Pletnev (on Virgin, now deleted), who ultimately seems to have his own rather than the text’s best interests at heart. There are some riveting crystalline staccatos and accurate but always musical sudden accents for squabbling French children and chirping balletic chicks, as well as a Russian-school orchestral pianism as Musorgsky’s Polish ox cart lumbers and the
bells of Kiev ring out.
Giltburg’s Pictures are only the start of a Russian recital spanning
70 years, with Scriabin’s Second Sonata coming as something of
an interlude. Giltburg captures its
post-Chopinesque candour here to perfection. In Prokofiev’s towering Eighth Sonata, as in the Musorgsky, he faces inevitable comparisons with the very greatest, Sviatoslav Richter, turning in an equally valid reading, terracing the distant voices of the opening Andante and the central minuet with tender heartbreak. He’s surely more convincing than any other interpreter in linking the finale’s demonic central parade back to the tolling of the first movement. This is easily the most complete Prokofiev debut since Frederic Chiu’s 14 years ago on Harmonia Mundi. EMI have gone for a closer piano sound in Suffolk’s Potton Hall than they did for Simon Trp?eski four years ago; but how wonderful that they have backed another pianist in the same imaginative league.