Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Miroirs (1905) - No.2 Oiseaux tristes [4:02]: No.4 Alborada del grazioso [6:46]: La Vallée des cloches [6:10]
La Valse (1921) [11:05]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Twenty Four Preludes Op.34 (1932-33); Nos. 1 in C major [1:26]: 2 in A minor [0:48]: 5 in D major [0:33]: 7 in A major [1:19]: 20 in C minor [0:38]: 24 in D minor [1:22]
Twenty Four Preludes and Fugues Op.87 (1950-51); No.12 [7:37]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Fantasia on Two Themes from Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, S697 (1842) edited Ferruccio Busoni [14:07]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Allegro in B flat; ‘Sophie und Constanza’ K400/372a (?1782-83) [4:26]
Thea MUSGRAVE (b.1928)
Snapshots (2010) [5:10]
Oxana Shevchenko (piano)
rec. September 2010, Guinness Room of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow
DELPHIAN DCD34061 [65:29]
As part of her first-prize-winning package at the 2010 Scottish International Piano Competition, Kazakhstan-born Oxana Shevchenko went to the studios to record this disc. It is, without doubt, impressive. She has not sought to construct a rounded programme, instead focusing on movements from Ravel’s Miroirs, and a selection of Shostakovich’s Op.34 Preludes, a single Op.87 Prelude and Fugue and three other works by Liszt, Mozart and Thea Musgrave.
She is clearly a devoted and intelligent Ravel pianist. She plays Oiseaux tristes, Alborada del grazioso and La Vallée des cloches from Miroirs with sensitive directness, shaping lines - and gauging dynamics - with finesse. She has chosen well, given the opportunities to bring out the vitality and colouristic essence of the music, opportunities she takes with insight. Again, she chooses from the Shostakovich works with care for contrast and characterisation. The Fifth Prelude is full of diverting intensity, whilst in the 24th she certainly catches the pawky humour implicit in the writing.
Unabashed by the challenge, she also takes on the Liszt/Busoni Fantasia on Two Themes from Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. This can be something of a minefield with its coruscating demands sounding flashy and unremitting in less sensitive hands. Fortunately that’s not the case here here, where we find playing of supple naturalness of phrasing allied to first class virtuosic instincts. The charm of the Mozart Allegro in B flat is conveyed with just as much conviction too. Thea Musgrave’s Snapshots, commissioned for the competition, is a five minute piece that encourages the pianist to change dynamics and tempi. It’s an attractive work and sounds fine in this performance, one that conveys its malleable intensity. In La Valse she again proves to have the measure of the work’s incremental pressures and ultimately despairing disintegration. She builds up to this moment with the kind of clarity of articulation she displayed in Miroirs and ensures that the pace never slackens. Once again this is formidable musicianship at work.
This recital functions as an index of Shevchenko’s enthusiasms and repertoire now, and whilst perhaps therefore unsuitable for ‘collecting’ purposes, in the strict sense, nevertheless, on its own terms, enshrines playing of considerable poise, maturity and genuine accomplishment.
Jonathan Woolf
Playing of considerable poise, maturity and genuine accomplishment.