£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


BRAHMS Complete Edition
58CD £95.22


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
AmazonUK AmazonUS

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Three Intermezzos, Op.117 (1891-93) [17:41]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Ballade No.1 in G minor, Op.23 (1835-36) [10:00]
Ballade No.2 in F major, Op.38 (1836-39) [7:30]
Ballade No.3 in A-flat major, Op.47 (1840-41) [8:07]
Ballade No.4 in F minor, Op.52 (1842-43) [11:56]
Aleksandr SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Sonata No.4 in F-sharp major, Op.30 (1899-1903) [8:10]
Vassily Primakov (piano)
rec. June 2009, Odense Koncerthus, Odense, Denmark.
HD DVD. Region-free. 4:3 Color, PCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 Surround, Dolby 5.1 Surround, MP4.
Director: David Starobin
BRIDGE 9315 [68:00]

Experience Classicsonline


Vassily Primakov was justly praised for his Chopin recordings. So it is not surprising that the main course of this his first DVD recording is the four Ballades. We also get a tasty appetizer and a sweet dessert, all adding up to a great concert experience. There are no extra-musical images on this DVD: just the pianist, sitting at the instrument in an empty concert hall. So, why a DVD? Does this visual component really add something? Well, yes. What you get here is a private recital for you alone, where you are sitting close to the pianist, with a good view of his hands and face, and can watch how the music is born. Which in this case is not a mere technical matter: Primakov is not just depressing the keys. He seems to re-think and re-create the music, he channels it through himself, and it is as if you can watch the process, from mind to fingers. His facial expression is very alive, and the setting of the film does nothing to distract from it. In the Brahms and Scriabin, the background is a black void. In the Chopin, the scene is brightly lit, and we see empty chairs and music-stands; maybe the idea was that each Ballade is a small concert sans orchestre? All this visual setting conveys the feeling of simplicity, concentration and sincerity without pretence. Primakov sings the music in his head, sometimes whispering inaudibly. He makes “big eyes” on sudden mood shifts, takes pleasure in the sweeter places and suffers in the stormy ones. The visual interest is also sustained by frequent changes of viewpoint.

You might say: “That’s nice, but what about the main aspect of the performance? What do I hear? Would it be good if it were just a CD?” Yes, definitely. These performances are technically impeccable, but, first and foremost, they are poetic. This is becoming a rare thing these days, when saying more often means shouting. Primakov says more in a quiet voice, and in the process shows us the soul of the music. But when he is storming, he storms in 3D.

Restraint is the motto of Primakov’s interpretation of the first Intermezzo from Op.117. The outer parts are spiritual and pastoral. But the middle part is slower than usual, which leads to a complete change of character. The music becomes dark and uneasy. This is, by the way, the hallmark of the entire disc: even in peaceful moments Primakov remembers the storms that will come, and this foreboding lurks in the deep undercurrents. Like artists that add cold tones to enliven a picture that mostly consists of warm colors, this shadow adds depth.

So, the first Intermezzo becomes very different, and I am not sure that I totally agree with Primakov’s view. I miss that feeling of graceful free movement. On the other hand, we’ll have plenty of this in the second piece, so as a result of this change the three Intermezzos become more varied, which makes the cycle more interesting. The second Intermezzo is all autumn leaves waltzing in the wind, and Primakov’s “magic touch” is on full display here. Again, there is more solemn loading on the second subject than usual. This adds some heaviness to the music, but it’s not excessive. The third Intermezzo starts sharper than usual, with less legato. This leads to a more ballad-like presentation, and reduces the moodiness. Brahms called this piece “the lullaby of all my griefs”, and Primakov shows the seriousness of these sorrows. The middle part gleams with pearly opalescence. Overall, this is a very personal reading.

The four Chopin’s Ballades are known as some of the most challenging pieces in the standard piano repertoire. Primakov makes the listener forget this it, such is the musicality he brings to bear. The G Minor breathes very naturally, with tempos well chosen. This ballad has everything in it, and the performance is accordingly diverse. Yet it does not fall apart into a sequence of fragments; the feeling of the overarching structure is maintained. The forte does not yell and the dense structures are well articulated, without “dirt”. The reading is dark and emotional.

In the F Major, Primakov seems to chant incantations to the piano. The pastoral first theme is not all placid: the pianist knows about the future. Thus, the explosion does not take us by complete surprise, but is no less shattering because of this. It is heavily pedaled and swirls like a thick tornado of black notes.

The A-flat Major starts calmly and gradually develops increasing agitation. Primakov squeezes more drama out of this music than there probably is – but it is persuasive. Even the tranquil moments have a relentless drive, and the climax is purely ecstatic.

In the last Ballad, Primakov presents the main theme as one of Chopin’s mazurkas: light, airy, melancholic. He is not in a hurry, yet all the drama is there, and the turbulent outbursts are furious. The coda is majestic in its dark abandon. The quiet passages are very delicate and poetic. Primakov’s Chopin is indeed very special.

The last work on this DVD is Scriabin’s rapturous Sonata No.4. Its two short parts form a tight unity: a preparation for flight followed by the flight itself. Primakov maintains the unceasing drive, like an avalanche rolling faster and faster, to the jubilant blaze, the golden frenzy, and the explosion of light.

The sound of the Steinway is full and deep. The annotation is by Malcolm MacDonald and is, as usual with him, exemplary. It perfectly combines thorough musical analysis with engaging reading. I would probably prefer to have a CD version of this recital: just to be able to listen to it more often. Frankly, how many times will you watch a 70-minute piano recital? Still, there really is an added dimension. Musically, this album is on the level of other Primakov’s recordings, which means it is a total winner. This is the most Romantic presentation of the most Romantic music. Very, very impressive.

Oleg Ledeniov



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.