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The Wanderer Fantasy
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonata in G, K283a (1775) [8’10].
Franz Peter SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Fantasy in C, D760, Wanderera (1822) [20’13].
Franz Peter SCHUBERT/Franz LISZT (1811-86)
Schubert Lieder, S558aFrühlingsglaube [3’01]; Der Erlkönig [4’25]; Schwanengesang, S560a – No. 3, Aufenthalt [3’10]; No. 8 Ihr Bild [2’28].  Die Forelle, S564 [3’20]a.
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano Sonata No. 6 in Ab (1940) [26’42].
Marina Kolomiitseva (piano)
Rec. aEugene Goossens Hall, ABC’s Ultimo Centre on March 28th, 2002, bStudio 620, ABC Perth on March 18th, 2002. DDD
ABC CLASSICS 476 160-3 [72’19]


Marina Kolomiitseva was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, in 1979. She studied at the Moscow State Conservatory (from 1991). Competition successes include The Seventh Sydney International Piano Competition - presumably hence the present CD.

Amazingly, the entire disc, apart from the Prokofiev, was recorded in one day; the Prokofiev session taking place on another single day. On paper this is a pretty typical calling-card recital, daring to wander into Prokofiev for the twentieth-century, with a well-loved Mozart sonata as opener.

There is much to recommend with Kolomiitseva’s playing, but whether it merits an internationally-released disc is another matter. The Mozart begins pleasantly, with scales pearly and the requisite orchestral thought in the background for delineation and contrasts of texture. Indeed, ‘pleasant’ is a useful word in reference to Kolomiitseva’s Mozart, for it describes the Andante to a tee. Harmless might be another; well-behaved yet another. The finale scuttles along nicely.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy played as a virtuoso showpiece or even as a set of C major exercises.  Amazing how in the best performance mishaps cease to matter – a live Brendel RFH performance, many years ago now, in which one hand slipped a semitone right at the end springs to mind. Rather that than this.

The piece begins with what can only be described as a ‘thunk’ as Kolomiitseva falls on the first chord. Semiquavers might be nicely defined, but one remains blissfully unaware of the stature of this piece.  Everything is nicely shaped, any chance of spontaneity completely practised out.. This is very good conservatoire playing. It must be admitted though that the recording dates mentioned above mean that, boy, does she play a lot of right notes.

The dark shading of the opening of the slow movement augurs well, but Kolomiitseva becomes more wooden as the Adagio progresses. In fact the longer one listens the more laboured the playing becomes, with the close not in the least exciting.

The bouquet of Schubert/Liszt Lieder is a nice thought. The inclusion of texts and translations in the booklet is an unexpected bonus. The songs seem to strike a chord with Kolomiitseva for Aufenthalt is very carefully and prettily shaped and Aufenthalt is darkly dramatic. A pity the ultra-famous Forelle is so studied. If she cannot reach the requisite Innigkeit for Ihr Bild, it is Erlkönig that disappoints more. The initial octaves are dry, heavy and awkward, the drama unsustained. First it threatens to run out of steam, then it threatens to run out of control.

So, another day - another sonata. Prokofiev’s mighty Sixth. This is a brave choice, whatever Kolomiitseva’s personal geographic origins; did she feel a sense of duty? She does try for the violence of the opening, and it is clear she enjoys the lighter-Prokofiev sections. It sounds exactly as if she chickens out for the final gesture of the first movement; and at 7’39 it sounds like she breaks a string!

Prokofiev’s language can be tricky to interpret, and for much of the middle two movements Kolomiitseva seems to meander aimlessly. The finale comes closest to success in any sense, taken very fast indeed, with good articulation and some of the spirit required.

Ultimately a very disappointing disc, though, I’m afraid.

Colin Clarke

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