Schubert sonatas

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Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Seasons, Op. 37b (1875-76) No. 6, Barcarolle in G minor (June) [5'14]; Morceaux, Op. 19 No. 4, Nocturne in D minorb (1873) [5'24]; Trio in A minor, Op. 50 (1881-82) [48'08]; Sérénade mélancolique in B minor, Op. 26a (1875) [10'43]
Boris Berezovsky (piano); aDmitri Makhtin (violin); bAlexander Kniazev (cello)
Rec. live at La Roque d'Anthéron, 10 August 2004.
Director: Andy Sommer.
LPCM Stereo 2.0. DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1.
Region Code 0. PAL players only. DVD-9.
NAÏVE DR2115 AV 103 [69'29]

The Roque d'Anthéron series on DVD gets better and better. This all-Tchaikovsky programme has the mighty A minor Trio as its centre-piece but, as we shall see, there is point to the smaller pieces, too.

Director Andy Sommer handles the affair tastefully. Some issues in this series have imposed camera-work that can induce sea-sickness, but not a trace of that here. An approach characterised by pertinent close-ups and sensitive work all round is the order of the day.

The Barcarolle (solo piano) is a melancholy little piece. Berezovsky is shown as casual in his approach but here he plays with real warmth, bringing across the tender, wistful nature of the music. It is good to see 'The Seasons' (in reality of course 'The Months') getting exposure. The small piece for cello and piano, Nocturne, Op. 19 No. 4, reveals how expressive Kniazev can be - and how strange it is to see a pianist of Berezovsky's talents playing such a simple chordal accompaniment! The close-up of the cellist's left hand makes for interesting viewing.

All of which puts the listener in the right frame of mind for the broader Tchaikovskian strokes of the Trio. All bodes well, with Berezovsky's rippling accompaniment to Kniazev. Makhtin's violin can seem a trifle edgy at first; not uncomfortably so, but enough to seem slightly out of place. Amazing to watch Berezovsky, who moves but little yet produces a huge sound when required, seemingly with little or no effort.

The simplicity of line of the second movement harks back to that The Seasons excerpt that began the recital. There is much to enjoy in this movement, mainly from Berezovsky, whose light touch at speed is simply beautiful - as is his music-box imitation. All three players gel fully here. Makhtin's tone is noticeably sweeter and his concentration is at its height. Finally, the last movement (Variazione finale e coda) is marked by vigorous energy from all concerned. The sheer volume of sound the combined players make is remarkable; the overall quality of performance breathtakingly high. So high, in fact, that when Berezovsky comes in fractionally early near the end, it is all the more obvious.

The final work, the Sérénade mélancolique is, it has to be said, not hugely melancholic. It is more relaxing after the trials and travails of the huge Trio. A nice encore to send people home happy, but that is essentially what it is here.

Another excellent DVD from this source. These products are almost as much a joy to watch as they are to listen to, thanks to the near-miraculous picture clarity.


Colin Clarke




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