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  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
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FOR AVAILABILITY SEE http://www.elenakuschnerova.com/kuschnerova-cd.htm

Elena Kuschnerova Live in Tokyo
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in D minor K9 [L413]
Sonata in F major K518 [L116]
Sonata in E major K531 [l430]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Pour le piano (1894-1901)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Pavane pour une infante défunte
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)

Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major Op. 83 (1942)
Symphony No. 1 in D major Classical – Gavotte – arr. PROKOFIEV
The Love For Three Oranges – March – arr. PROKOFIEV (1919 transc 1922)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Prelude in B minor [Prelude in E Minor, Well Tempered Clavier Book I] arr. Alexander SILOTI (1863-1945)
Elena Kuschnerova (piano)
Recorded live in Sumida Triphony Recital Hall, Tokyo, 11th April 2002
STEINWAY JAPAN [R-02A0076OP] [53.31


Though her Orfeo recordings may be known to pianophiles this one, by the Russian Elena Kuschnerova, has been produced by Steinway and documents a recital she gave whilst on tour in Tokyo. A student of Tatiana Kestner in Moscow she emigrated to Germany in 1992 (was forced to emigrate, as the notes succinctly put it, for reasons we can imagine). Her recital plays to some of her considerable strengths – the Bach-Siloti harkens back to the Russian strain in Bach playing whilst reminding us of her excellent Bach recording for Orfeo. And she proves adept in Prokofiev as she has elsewhere proved herself to be in Scriabin. New to her discography are the French works and Scarlatti.

She does take a little time to settle in her Scarlatti, which has a veil of romantic tracery around it. The D minor seems slightly unsteady rhythmically but her F major is boldly romantic with depth of bass pointing and a kind of half staccato articulation. Horowitz loved the E major and played it with a kind of confidential intimacy – whereas Kuschnerova is attractively straight about it. Her Debussy Pour le Piano is buoyant in the Toccata though perhaps, whilst sympathetic, a little too unvaried in the opening Prélude. I felt the Ravel lacking in a degree of verticality; quite slow, its linear romanticism doesn’t fully explore its chordal sound world. Fruitful comparison can be made between her performance of Prokofiev’s turbulent Seventh Sonata and that by Richter. Her passagework in the opening movement is notably clear and even and she adopts a less frantic and driving attack than Richter. But she evinces fine declamatory moments and her control of contrapuntal clarity in this movement is quite undeniable. She keeps a tight control on her rubati, which aren’t as yielding as Richter’s. Her slow movement is swifter than his and she manages to be affecting without resorting to obvious point making; her rocking rhythm is excellent here with an equally fine central section. Where Richter generated a kind of jazzy syncopation in the Precipitato finale and disclosed humour and unstoppable rhythm she prefers a more equable line; attractive if not the galvanizing intensity of the older musician. Her Bach-Siloti is very attractively phrased and the little Prokofiev arranged pieces are apt encore pendants. Sound quality is good and the audience far more quiet than their western European equivalents. Notes are in English and Japanese.

Jonathan Woolf

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