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Olga Vinokur (piano)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Paraphrase of Rigoletto – arranged Franz LISZT (1811-1886) [6:27]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Liebesleid - arranged by Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) [4:07]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Etudes-Tableaux: Op.33 No.6 in E flat minor (1911) [1:41]; No.8 in G minor (1911) [3:20]; No.7 in E flat major (1911) [1:55]; Op.39 No.2 in A minor (1916-17) [6:08];
No.6 in A minor (1916-17) [2:45]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Preludes: Op.9 No.1 in C sharp minor for left hand alone [2:55]; Op.11 No.1 in C major [1:01]; No.2 in A minor [2:02]; No.3 in G major [0:49]; No.5 in D major [1:35]; No.20 in C minor [1:00]; No.21 in B flat major [1:29]; No.23 in F major [0:40]; No.14 in E flat minor [1:01]; No.22 in G minor [0:58]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sarcasms Op.17 (1912-14) [10:05]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Transcendental Etude No.10 in F minor - Douze Études d’exécution transcendante S.139 (1852) [5:09]
Olga Vinokur (piano)
rec. May and November 2005  

Olga Vinokur was born in Russia and began her piano studies at six, before emigrating to Israel where she studied in Tel-Aviv. She is now a Doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. She’s been active giving concerts across America and has made broadcasts. This CD, self-produced, can be obtained, as can further information about her, from her website or by contacting her direct at the email address noted in this review.

Her recital lays out her reportorial wares – virtuoso Liszt and her native Russian Prokofiev, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. The recordings were made in May and November 2005 though no location is noted. There’s an ambient noise audible and pedalling is caught with quite an amount of “noisy” air but I daresay these relative limitations are not as important as the nature of the playing and the intimations of future promise they may hold.

Vinokur is certainly a musician of taste, though as yet she can be a little cautious when measured against those long established masters in the field. That’s the case with her Transcendental Etude where such titans of the repertoire such as Sergio Fiorentino and Joyce Hatto demonstrate how much can be ventured without blurring or loss.  In the Kreisler-Rachmaninoff Liebeslied we find plenty of the latter composer but not much sign of the former. Rachmaninoff’s own recording embeds capricious Kreisleresque rubati and rallentandi to giddy effect.

The selections from the Opp.33 and 39 Etudes-Tableaux are played with consistent intelligence. Op.39 No.2 in A minor is rather withdrawn and Vinokur doesn’t shape voicings in a way more mature performances would succeed in doing.  Op.39 No.6 is similarly rather careful, with melody lines failing to sing out at speed, as they very definitely do in Joyce Hatto’s traversal on Concert Artist.

Her Scriabin cleaves more to the aristocratic model established by such as Neuhaus than to the more visceral trajectory of a Sofronitsky. So whilst she doesn’t explore the intense conversational melancholy and passion of Op.9 No.1 with anything that approximates Sofronitsky’s drama she does hover closer to Neuhaus’s ethos in Op.11 No.5. Here her patrician take is more aligned with his own, though without his warmth of tone. In time she will bring more athleticism and colour to bear on Op.11 No.20 and in the case of Op.11 No.2 ensure that phrase endings do not taper off. Her Prokofiev Sarcasms however are sharply etched and have requisite personality.

Doubtless we shall be hearing more of Vinokur in the years ahead. This serves nicely as a calling card of her accomplishments so far and her strengths in the Russian repertoire in particular.

Jonathan Woolf


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