Russian Piano Tradition - Yakov Flier
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35 "Funeral
March" (1839) [23:35] Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Prelude in C sharp minor Op.3 No.2 [4:11]
Prelude in G minor Op.23 No.5 [3:40] Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Twenty-Four Preludes Op.38 (1943-44) [42:39]
rec. Moscow 1952-c.1956 APR 5665 [74:50]
APR’s excellent series devoted to
the Russian Piano Tradition continues
apace with this Yakov Flier release.
It’s subsumed into the Igumnov
School – the pianist whose own
single disc I so warmly welcomed recently
– of which Flier was so eminent an
alumnus. Flier discs aren’t exactly
plentiful at the moment – perhaps
his collaboration with Shafran in
the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata is one
of his most widely appreciated and
popular discs – so this makes the
restoration of these performances
all the more valuable.
His Chopin is a highly idiosyncratic affair with regard to
tempos. The traversal must encapsulate something of the impression
he left on his many students - Pletnev, Rudy and Postnikova
among them – even as it must puzzle those unused to so teeming,
seething and superficially uncohesive a performance. The
way he slows down for the trio of the second movement is
remarkable and unsettling, though in compensation one should
note the very poetic phrasing and the tonal distinction he
at all times brings to bear, He abjures too outsize a funeral
march; the central panel is, once again, a character study
in the landscapist’s art, though as a whole the performance
is really quite slow and measured.
His native repertoire does however show him on rather more
conventional ground. His two Rachmaninoff Preludes have plenty
of grandeur and excitement without breaking any stylistic
bounds. But the prize here, obviously, is the Kabalevsky.
The Preludes, written in wartime, received this premiere
recording about a decade later and it bears the stamp of
so many such first recordings – lithe, powerful, directional
and getting to the heart of things. Here he is really at
his very best. The third Prelude is brilliantly articulated
and the propulsive clarity of the Sixth shows Flier retaining,
even at speed, tonal eloquence. If you’re not convinced try
the jaunty assurance of the Ninth – an Allegretto scherzando that’s
characterised so richly that its sixty-four seconds rush
by all too soon. And if that fails to grab you then surely
the Mussorgskian glare of the Tenth will have you enthralled.
Flier is simply scintillating in the Fourteenth – and well
he might be given the marking; Prestissimo possible.
But Kabalevsky also requires nobility and that’s what Flier
serves up in the Eighteenth.
Once again Bryan Crimp’s notes are first class and the transfers
deal as well as can be expected with the Moscow-recorded
originals, never the easiest of things to clarify at the
best of times. Flier’s Rachmaninoff is exciting, his Chopin
sometimes wilful, but his Kabalevsky tremendous.
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