Prokofiev: Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet; Piano Sonata No. 7; Visions fugitives

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet; Piano Sonata No. 7; Visions fugitives
PERFORMER: Ayako Uehara (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 517 8522

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Ayako Uehara certainly sidesteps easy categorisation in the Romeo and Juliet pieces. Unusually light and fanciful in the opening tarantella, she unleashes a whole armoury of sonorities on ‘Masks’, ‘Montagues and Capulets’ and ‘Mercutio’. Best of all is her portrait of Juliet, achieving a new intimacy in Prokofiev’s piano arrangement. Shortcomings are exposed by the hard-hitting Seventh Sonata. Uehara hits hard indeed on certain accents, though without proper weight and willingness to sustain a longer line. The beast in the finale’s jungle leaps far too soon as does the cavalcade of the 15th Vision fugitive. There are lovely things in Uehara’s rainbow of colours – the pearls on a line of No. 2 – and she is certainly not without the right sense of fantasy. But excessive blurring from the sustaining pedal and a brittleness to the piano sound make her a less than ideal companion through these myriad worlds. Chiu, Ovchinikov and Demidenko offer more charismatic performances; the more searching Oleg Marshev offers both the Visions and the Sonata among other works on Danacord. David Nice