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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Meditation, Op.72 No.5 (1893)
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Seven Preludes: C sharp minor, Op.3 No.2; B flat major, Op.23 No.2; D minor, Op.23 No.3; D major, Op.23 No.4; G minor, Op.23 No.5; G major, Op.32 No.5; G sharp minor, Op.32 No.12
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet, Op.75 (1937) - No. 10 – Romeo and Juliet at parting
Sonata No.2, Op.14 (1912)
(Allegro ma non troppo; Allegro marcato; Andante; Vivace)
Sergei Dukachev (piano)
rec. lunchtime celebrity recital, Fifth Chetham's International Summer School and Festival for Pianists, Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music, Manchester, 24 August 2005, 28 August 2005
DUNELM RECORDS DRD0248 [55:50]

The above information gives a clue to one of the most curious aspects of this recording. Although the programme forms a varied and fascinating introduction to the piano music of three great Russian composers, and is an entirely reasonable programme for a lunchtime recital – especially one given during a piano festival – it is likely to leave some less than satisfied at the end. The disc comes with a small but quite informative booklet.
 
The first piece on the disc, the Meditation comes from Tchaikovsky's 18 Morceaux, and Dukachev gives a pleasingly understated performance without too much rubato.
 
The following seven tracks are preludes from three different Rachmaninov collections, and provide an opportunity for the pianist to showcase his abilities both technically and musically.
 
The one piece from the Op.3 Morceaux is the C sharp minor (No.2) prelude, perhaps one of Rachmaninov's most well known preludes. Dukachev does an excellent job of taking the listener into the depths of this wonderful music.
 
There are four preludes from the Op.23 collection, the B flat major (No.2) is performed with quite a flourish, but Dukachev still manages to avoid too much rubato. The D minor (No.3 – Tempo di Minuetto) is for the most part, beautifully controlled with just a little pulling back of the tempo at the end of phrases. The D major Andante Cantabile is lyrical and smooth; some percussive pedalling slightly detracts from it, however. The G minor Alla Marcia is not stately enough for my liking and Dukachev affects quite a mood change for the central section. He is still able to bring the music back to the initial tempo in a wonderfully controlled manner before the final flourish.
 
The two last preludes in this sequence come from Op.32, written in 1910. Although they lack some of the virtuosic difficulties of the previous selection, they are nevertheless challenging from a musical point of view. The first of the two is the G sharp No.5 (marked Moderato), which Dukachev is able to imbue with a lovely ethereal feeling despite some extraneous noises which made it onto the recording. The second is the G sharp minor No.12 (marked Allegro) to which Dukachev is able to give a flourish to complement the shimmering opening section.
 
The first of the Prokofiev works on the disc is a single number from the piano suite Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet. Dukachev has chosen the final piece, “Romeo and Juliet at parting”, which is the longest and most substantial. What we have here is a competent performance, but it lacks some of the emotional depth that the music calls for.
 
The one complete piece in the programme is the final work on the disc, Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No.2 in D minor. Dukachev here manages to balance the varying rhythmic demands of the first movement, while maintaining a unified style, a less than easy job with this music. The second movement, marked Allegro Marcato is performed in a suitably spiky and humorous fashion, while the third movement, marked Andante, is haunting and has a dreamy quality. Dukachev is able to provide the final Vivace with a suitably explosive finish.
 
All in all, what we get is a fine recital, only spoiled by the odd bit of extraneous noise, and perhaps by the slightly bitty programme. It is a good disc for anyone exploring this music for the first time, and is to be recommended for that. Someone already familiar with this repertoire might be a little disappointed with the CD's content.
 
Euan Bayliss
 

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