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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Sergei Dukachev
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Piano Sonata No. 3 in C, Op. 2 No. 3 (1794/5) [26'28]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Pavane pour une infant défunte (1899) [5'37]; Jeux d'eau (1901) [5'13]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56)

Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838) [27'21]
Sergei Dukachev (piano)
Rec. Maidment Building, Shrewsbury School, on 16th February 2002 DDD
DUNELM RECORDS DRD0180 [64.58]


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Sergei Dukachev has made several recordings for Dunelm. After postgraduate study at the Moscow Conservatoire, he was a semi-finalist in the Beethoven Competition (Vienna) in 1989. He was appointed Artist-in-Residence at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2000.

For the present offering, Dukachev has chosen a demanding hour's worth, particularly when one considers that, according to the recording information given, it was recorded in one day. The choice of Beethoven's early C major Sonata was brave, therefore: it is notoriously tricky and, indeed, some wrong notes do slip in to the more exacting passages. Perhaps more disturbing, at least initially, is the fairly reverberant setting - yet despite this ambience, the actual piano sound seems a little lacking in body.

Russian literalism informs much of the Adagio, and despite some impressive moments (Dukachev's heavy bass invokes organ pedals excellently at one point), he fails to penetrate much below the music's surface. The cheeky third movement comes off quite well, despite some rhythmic clipping in the Scherzo (the Trio could have been more fantastical, also). This is, in general, a fairly enjoyable reading (the fiddly finger-work of the finale, which can sound awkward, is here well managed), but not one to return to on a regular basis.

The slightly light use of the sustaining pedal that Dukachev applies to Ravel gives the Pavane a literal feel. The tempo is nice and flowing, but the antique/mystique element is missing, and chords are occasionally snatched at. Jeux d'eau, one of Ravel's most popular pieces, is fluid and fluent, but textures unfortunately messy at one point. Perhaps even more delicacy is called for here (and the inclusion of the careless clearing of the pedal on the very final chord is a serious error).

Schumann's Kreisleriana of 1838, a set of eight fantasy pieces, is a marvellous but elusive example of Schumann's highly individual language. Dukachev cannot be mentioned in the same breath as the great interpreters of this piece: Horowitz (DG 445 599-2), Argerich (DG 410 653-2), Lupu (Decca 440 496-2) etc. Dukachev is largely accurate but rarely exciting. After easing into the music well, he is often unstable (he does not seem to know what to do with Schumann's characteristically obsessive repetitions in the 'Molto agitato', for example). Certainly he needs to get closer to the soul of this quirky composition, which only reveals its secrets after long and involved immersion in the music of Robert Schumann.

Despite some impressive and beautiful moments along the way, this recital does not add up to more than the sum of its parts.

Colin Clarke



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