COMPOSERS: A Tcherepnin
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 4 (Fantaisie); Symphonic Prayer; Magna mater
PERFORMER: Noriko Ogawa (piano); Singapore SO/Lan Shui
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1247
A passionate admirer of things Far Eastern, Alexander Tcherepnin – not to be confused with father Nikolai, Diaghilev’s first house composer – would have been proud to have his works performed by the high-calibre Singapore Symphony Orchestra and its Chinese music director Lan Shui. They make a disciplined, cleanly profiled and brilliantly recorded case for the two short orchestral rituals on this disc – hardly easy music to love, but effectively paced towards very different percussive climaxes.
Nothing like the same can be said for the two concertos featured here. If Magna mater is a belated specimen of the style mécanique which swept Twenties Paris, the Second Piano Concerto starts with the brittle musiquette expected at the start of the decade. It sits uneasily alongside the young Tcherepnin’s Russian Romantic hangover, but Noriko Ogawa treats both aspects with likeable candour, even if her tone sometimes needs anchoring. Her scintillating way with Chinese pentatonics in the Fourth Concerto of 1947 can do little to hold us through the endless first-movement struggle between mythical hero Woo Sung and a marauding tiger. The finale’s brief, bright ‘Road to Yunnan’ belongs to another, less prolix world; but it comes much too late for comfort in a work which exposes Tcherepnin as a big softy at heart. David Nice