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Sergei Dukachev plays piano music by Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor Op.27 No.2 Moonlight (1801) [15:39]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Ballades (1831-42); No.4 in F minor Op.42 [10:38]
Nocturne No.8 in D flat major Op.27 No.2 [4:58]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Seasons Op.37b (1875-76)
No.1 January; By the Fireside [4:19]
No.11 November; On the troika [2:47]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Prelude in G major Op.32 No.5 [2:43]
Sonata No.2 in B flat minor (1913 revised 1931) [18:49]
Sergei Dukachev (piano)
rec. live, Whitely Hall, Chethamís School of Music, Manchester, August 2006†
DUNELM RECORDS DRD 0267 [60:22] †


The latest of Sergei Dukachevís Dunelm recordings was recorded live in August 2006 at Chethamís School of Music in Manchester. Heís made studio recordings, naturally, though Iíve not yet heard them. On the wing in concert he proves a musician, I have to say, of highly sympathetic qualities.

These are best exemplified in Chopin. Others may well dissent from my perception but I find him, albeit on the evidence of only two pieces, a player of real poeticism and insight, of beautiful tonal qualities and unforced lyricism. The F minor Ballade is both fiery and poetic, both susceptible to rhythmic control and also of great phrasal elasticity. The fire is controlled but palpable. He colours with lied-like depth and even reminds me just a bit of Moravec. Similarly in the Nocturne we hear a naturalness of expression and a narrative truthfulness that together produce a most satisfying fusion; thereís nothing flaccid about this playing, no playing for effect. The tonal reserves are never ostentatious but they are at all times highly impressive.

Perhaps nothing else is quite on this high level but there are still many other points of interest and enthusiasm. He deliberately negotiates a rather narrow dynamic range in the Moonlight. Some might find this emotionally evasive or lacking in projection. But there is something about his playing of even such a warhorse as this that conveys great accumulated warmth and generosity, from the slowly taken opening movement to the supercharge of parts of his finale.

Clearly it wonít do to brand him a Russian specialist though he does tend to be recorded in repertoire that encourages the feeling. The two movements from The Seasons are adroitly coloured and his Rachmaninoff Prelude, given as an encore at the concert but here placed before the same composerís second sonata, is a genuinely successful moment with myriad voicings duly evoked. Perhaps the sonata lacks the last vestiges of drama Ė I couldnít honestly claim that Dukachev mines its richly histrionic palette with anything of the avidity of a number of its exponents. But his own rather more circumspect reading Ė not necessarily in terms of tempi but rather in terms of circumscribed dynamic gradients, is certainly a personable view.

The recording level or microphone placement can sometimes emphasise air in the pedalling (and Dukachev is a notably fine exponent of pedalling). In the heat of the concert he does make some finger slips but the overriding impression with which one is left is of an unshowy, poetic and thoughtful musician who therefore makes no thoughtless gestures and puts himself, in that tired but here true phrase, at the service of the music. I want to hear him in an all-Chopin recital disc.

Jonathan Woolf 

 



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