The latest of Sergei Dukachevís Dunelm recordings
was recorded live in August 2006 at Chethamís School of Music
in Manchester. Heís made studio recordings, naturally, though
Iíve not yet heard them. On the wing in concert he proves a
musician, I have to say, of highly sympathetic qualities.
These are best exemplified in Chopin. Others
may well dissent from my perception but I find him, albeit on
the evidence of only two pieces, a player of real poeticism
and insight, of beautiful tonal qualities and unforced lyricism.
The F minor Ballade is both fiery and poetic, both susceptible
to rhythmic control and also of great phrasal elasticity. The
fire is controlled but palpable. He colours with lied-like depth
and even reminds me just a bit of Moravec. Similarly in the
Nocturne we hear a naturalness of expression and a narrative
truthfulness that together produce a most satisfying fusion;
thereís nothing flaccid about this playing, no playing for effect.
The tonal reserves are never ostentatious but they are at all
times highly impressive.
Perhaps nothing else is quite on this high
level but there are still many other points of interest and
enthusiasm. He deliberately negotiates a rather narrow dynamic
range in the Moonlight. Some might find this emotionally evasive
or lacking in projection. But there is something about his playing
of even such a warhorse as this that conveys great accumulated
warmth and generosity, from the slowly taken opening movement
to the supercharge of parts of his finale.
Clearly it wonít do to brand him a Russian
specialist though he does tend to be recorded in repertoire
that encourages the feeling. The two movements from The Seasons
are adroitly coloured and his Rachmaninoff Prelude, given
as an encore at the concert but here placed before the same
composerís second sonata, is a genuinely successful moment with
myriad voicings duly evoked. Perhaps the sonata lacks the last
vestiges of drama Ė I couldnít honestly claim that Dukachev
mines its richly histrionic palette with anything of the avidity
of a number of its exponents. But his own rather more circumspect
reading Ė not necessarily in terms of tempi but rather in terms
of circumscribed dynamic gradients, is certainly a personable
The recording level
or microphone placement can sometimes emphasise air in the pedalling
(and Dukachev is a notably fine exponent of pedalling). In the
heat of the concert he does make some finger slips but the overriding
impression with which one is left is of an unshowy, poetic and
thoughtful musician who therefore makes no thoughtless gestures
and puts himself, in that tired but here true phrase, at the service
of the music. I want to hear him in an all-Chopin recital disc.