Prokofiev: Cinderella Suite, Opp 95, 97 & 102; Music for Children, Op. 65; Gavotte, Opp. 32/3; Prelude in C, Op. 12/7

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev: Cinderella Suite
WORKS: Cinderella Suite, Opp 95, 97 & 102; Music for Children, Op. 65; Gavotte, Opp. 32/3; Prelude in C, Op. 12/7
PERFORMER: Olli Mustonen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 1060-2
Unpredictable Finn Olli Mustonen’s quirky, wayward personality ought to chime well with Prokofiev’s – and in the spikiest numbers of this child-friendly selection, it does: Cinderella’s stepsisters squabble with jazzy, spring-heeled aplomb in the penultimate of the ballet transcriptions; Music for Children’s Grasshopper Procession bounces with re-creative playfulness; and the malign Gavotte of Op. 32 is rightly evasive. But that vein of unusual melody in which the composer excelled never stands a chance given Mustonen’s habit of picking at passing notes and of bending a theme so that it sounds arch rather than free and easy. The two love-dances for Cinderella and her prince (tracks 3 and 12) never reach grand passion; the artless seeming simplicity which frames the childhood vignettes and the direct poignancy of the only disquieting number in the sequence, ‘Regrets’, hardly stand a chance given Mustonen’s pecking impatience.

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Fast speeds apply throughout, giving us a good run at each sequence and gleaming in the handsomely recorded piano sound, but missing a maximum sense of contrast. Frederic Chiu delivers a deeper vein of feeling beneath an apparently brittle surface. As for Mustonen, the odd but rather fun sleeve design provides an apt metaphor – a modish boot, rather than an elegant glass slipper, squatting on the piano. David Nice