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Albany Records

Boris TCHAIKOVSKY (1925-1996)
Boris Tchaikovsky Edition: Vol. 2
Piano Sonata No. 1 (1944) [12:46]
Piano Sonata No. 2 (1952) [17:37]
Eight Piece for Children (1952) [9:34]
Pentatonica (1952) [4:01]
Natural Modes (1993) [5:06]
Sonatina (1946) [3:38]
Olga Solovieva (piano)
rec. Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, 23 Sept, 22 Oct 2004
ALBANY TROY749 [55:00]

Boris Tchaikovsky Society:

The Boris Tchaikovsky Society's efforts are paying dividends when you realise the boom in the number of Tchaikovsky CDs being issued. His name is of course memorable and naturally intriguing. It helps that when you encounter the music it has Shostakovich blood-links without direct replication. Interestingly his teachers in Moscow were Shebalin and Miaskovsky, both fairly conservative figures, and Shostakovich - a great original. His piano professor was Lev Oborin.

The wartime First Sonata breathes sturdy conflict, surreal pained contemplation and then a gauntly joyous finale - heck it almost smiles! The language is not a million miles from that of Shostakovich; it certainly is not Shebalin or Miaskovsky. The DSCH lineage continues into the Bachian machine rhythms and lyric liberation in the 1952 Second Sonata. Romantic freedom asserts itself in total immersion in the touching Ravel-like piacevole of the Largo which could easily find itself in the Classic FM Top 100.

The Eight Pieces are all short character sketches, charming or fun or both. Memorable are the pattering of First Rain and the grand ballroom Romanza. Autumn Day is surprisingly cloud-hung and downbeat in this company. Pentatonica is subtitled ‘Six light pieces’. Again these are didactic miniatures painted with life and imagination. The River Flows has an Oriental watercolour feel to it rather like Bantock's Chinese Pictures. Natural Modes brings more of the same although the music is emotionally stilted and less imaginative than in the other two sets. Dissonance is not an issue here. The microscopic Sonatina starts with a dissonance and is a closer cousin to the two sonatas and to Rachmaninov's hauteur. It becomes extremely romantic and its troika rhythm recalls Sergei's famous Prelude; a sonata with both gravity and a grin.

This disc will appeal strongly to those who have developed a taste for Boris Tchaikovsky. Their interests are very well served by both Solovieva and by Albany's recording team. It is most provocatively characteristic in the sonatas and sonatina. The other pieces are utilitarian, not devoid of charm and life but not essential listening either.

Rob Barnett

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