Aureole etc.

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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano sonatas, Vol. 2

Sonata No. 1, Opus 1 (1909)
Sonata No. 3, Opus 28 (1917)
Sonata No. 5, Opus 38/135 (1923/1952)
Sonata No. 7, Opus 83 (1942)
Tales of an Old Grandmother, Opus 31 (1918)
Four Pieces, Opus 32 (1918)
Peter Dimitriew (piano)
Recorded October-November 2001, Moscow State Broadcasting and Recording House
ARTE NOVA 74321 93316 2 [74.12]


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This is the second of Peter Dimitriew's projected cycle of the Prokofiev piano sonatas, but it is also interesting to note that he chooses to include a substantial selection of pieces beyond sonatas. And The Tales of an Old Grandmother and the Four Pieces, both completed in 1918 just after the composer's departure from Russia, are certainly worth investigating. They also make this well-filled CD extremely good value, the more so because they receive such dedicated performances.

Perhaps the best performance on offer here is that of the Fifth Sonata. This is one of the less celebrated among the cycle, and is a little problematic in that Prokofiev subjected it to revision towards the end of his life, some thirty years after it was first written. Dimitriew plays the revised version, and makes a most convincing case for it, with particularly clear articulation, and suitable weight of tone when it is required.

Although Prokofiev was himself a star pianist and made his way in the world as a pianist-composer, his First Sonata needs rather more conviction and imagination than it seems to receive here. It can too easily sound rather like second-rate Rachmaninov. Likewise the Sonata No. 3 could be more characterfully phrased and paced; perhaps Dimitriew plays a little safe in the more hectic sections, demanding though they may be.

The Seventh Sonata is, of course, one of Prokofiev's greatest works in any medium. Dimitriew can certainly meet its notorious technical demands. However, once again the response to some of the tempi might have included taking more risks, not least in the final Precipitato, whose title says it all.

The booklet notes are a little thin and generalised, but as usual with Arte Nova, the recorded sound is warm and pleasing.

Terry Barfoot

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