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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Francesca da Rimini - Fantasy op. 32 (transc. Karl Klindworth (1830-1916)) [24:09]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata op. 2 No. 2 [22:31]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Etudes-Tableaux: op. 39, nos, 1,3, 8; op. 33 no. 3 [12:24]
Dennis Plutalov (piano)
rec. 4 December 2007, 25 September 2005, Kimball Recital Hall, USA, (Francesca; Etudes); 1 December 2004, Crowford Hall (LVB). DDD


Experience Classicsonline

The novelty here is the work presented first, Karl Klindworth’s transcription of Francesca da Rimini, which demands playing of compelling power and expression. It’s a commanding transcription, very seldom recorded and even more seldom performed in concert. It bears the stamp of Old School pianism, and it requires a player with similar, nerveless instincts, to bring forth its full pianistic potential.


In Dennis Plutalov it certainly has a fearless proselytizer. He evinces strong and sinewy power and a fine awareness of the work’s architectural peaks and troughs. His sweeping playing also takes in moments of refined lyricism and some brief smudges are a price worth paying to hear the territory of the transcription so well delineated for us.


Plutalov was born in Tambov, in Russia, in 1976. He studied first in his home town and then in Moscow where in 2001 he graduated from the Gnessin with his Degree. The following year he was in America, studying in North Carolina, and then studying with Leon Fleisher pupil, Mark Clinton.


The Beethoven sonata that follows makes a more guarded impression. The playing is tough and muscular, and at times a bit hectoring. The pedal tends to be overused, and there isn’t an ideal clarity or pointing in the slow movement. His response here is somewhat generically big-boned, and metrically speaking there can be a sapping sense to the phraseology. Altogether this is an imperious, late Beethoven reading of an early sonata lacking pithy control and colouristic nuance.


The recording of the Beethoven is less laudable than the Tchaikovsky but for the Rachmaninoff Etude-tableaux we return to Kimball Recital Hall. He plays four. Of the quartet I liked the handling of the D minor Op.39 No.8 best. He can be, perhaps unexpectedly, a little unsubtle in places, and that limits appreciation of his clearly strong pianistic mechanism.


The recordings then are uneven, and the notes rather patchy. Ups and downs here – but the Francesca is the prize.


Jonathan Woolf


see also Review by Nicholas Barnard





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