These are highly poetic performances, which
reveal the refined pianism of the Omsk-born pianist Svetlana
Ponomarëva. Her approach to the Liszt sonata for instance might
initially seem a touch reticent but persevere and one becomes
aware of the vocalised seedbed she evokes throughout its thirty-minute
span. This she does through limpid phrasing and reserves of
expressive colour, incisively etched bass lines, and suitable
vitality. The left hand is admirably clear throughout and she
has no recourse to the kind of wanton over-pedalling that disfigures
a number of far better known performances. It might be assumed
from the foregoing – and it is true – that she is not interested
in speed for its own sake, though there’s nothing especially
languid about the performance. She brings out the lines with
imaginative control and throughout with a very particular sense
of the sonata’s narrative potential. This is the most noticeable
feature of the performance – and though the notes speak of the
“operatic aspect” to her playing its immersion in a specific
narrative sense is its most overriding strength.
She has chosen to
couple the Liszt sonata with Schubert’s Moments Musicaux D790.
She takes a very personalised view of these. The C major emphasises
the moderato marking, garnishing the writing with pliant and
sensitive tone colours. She does rather forgo wit and dynamism
– obviously deliberately so – so comparisons with Schnabel and
Curzon would be quite misplaced. Her finely balanced chordal
playing illuminates the Andantino but she rather smoothes accents
in the F minor Allegretto – it sounds somewhat under-characterised.
The F minor Allegro vivace is full of very blunt speaking and
the final Allegretto in A flat major is just a touch on the
These things are
very personal but I prefer her Liszt playing to her Schubert,
which seems to me to miss the verve and tactile delight of the
six pieces. The consonance she promotes sometimes comes at a
cost of a loss of vitality and dramatic contrast.
has impressive things to say. The studio recording has been
well balanced; the notes are to the point.