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Jonathan Woolf
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Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
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Svetlana Ponomarëva's website



Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Moments Musicaux D780 (1828) [28:03]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Sonata in B minor (1853) [29:46]
Svetlana Ponomarëva (piano)
rec. CBC Studio One, Vancouver, November 2005
MV PRODUCTIONS [no number] [57:57] 


These are highly poetic performances, which reveal the refined pianism of the Omsk-born pianist Svetlana Ponomarëva. Her approach to the Liszt sonata for instance might initially seem a touch reticent but persevere and one becomes aware of the vocalised seedbed she evokes throughout its thirty-minute span. This she does through limpid phrasing and reserves of expressive colour, incisively etched bass lines, and suitable vitality. The left hand is admirably clear throughout and she has no recourse to the kind of wanton over-pedalling that disfigures a number of far better known performances. It might be assumed from the foregoing – and it is true – that she is not interested in speed for its own sake, though there’s nothing especially languid about the performance. She brings out the lines with imaginative control and throughout with a very particular sense of the sonata’s narrative potential. This is the most noticeable feature of the performance – and though the notes speak of the “operatic aspect” to her playing its immersion in a specific narrative sense is its most overriding strength.

She has chosen to couple the Liszt sonata with Schubert’s Moments Musicaux D790. She takes a very personalised view of these. The C major emphasises the moderato marking, garnishing the writing with pliant and sensitive tone colours. She does rather forgo wit and dynamism – obviously deliberately so – so comparisons with Schnabel and Curzon would be quite misplaced. Her finely balanced chordal playing illuminates the Andantino but she rather smoothes accents in the F minor Allegretto – it sounds somewhat under-characterised. The F minor Allegro vivace is full of very blunt speaking and the final Allegretto in A flat major is just a touch on the businesslike side.

These things are very personal but I prefer her Liszt playing to her Schubert, which seems to me to miss the verve and tactile delight of the six pieces. The consonance she promotes sometimes comes at a cost of a loss of vitality and dramatic contrast.

Nevertheless Ponomarëva has impressive things to say. The studio recording has been well balanced; the notes are to the point.

Jonathan Woolf



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