Viktor Stepanovych KOSENKO (1896–1938)
Piano Music – Vol. 2: The Complete Piano Sonatas
Sonata for Piano no 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 13 (1922) [17:32]
Sonata for Piano no 2 in C-sharp minor, Op. 14 (1924) [20:07]
Sonata for Piano no 3 in F minor, Op. 15 (1926-29) [12:05]
Natalya Shkoda (piano)
rec. 10-11 June 2009, Katzin Concert Hall, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.
World premiere recordings
It was back in 2008 that the soloist here was recorded by Toccata in volume 1 of a project to record the Kosenko piano music. It remains an intriguing disc that is worth seeking out. The project now surges forward under the Centaur banner with Kosenko’s three sonatas of the 1920s. Kosenko’s piano music shows something of an organic synthesis of the late-Romantic piano tradition and of elements of folk style, both Ukrainian and Moldovan. In December 1996 a stamp was issued by the Ukraine with Kosenko’s picture on it. Music schools in Kiev and Zhytomyr bear his name.
At the St Petersburg Conservatory he studied with Rimsky pupil Mikhail Sokolov. He had already proven himself as a phenomenal pianist, sight-reader, memoriser and transposer. He worked after graduation at the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr and then in his last decade in Kharkov and Kiev. He was deeply interested in learning and gathering the folk-music of Moldova, which was an autonomous part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic. Kosenko suffered considerable privation and only secured a state stipend in 1938 due to the selfless persistence of his wife Angelina. She continued to promote his music long after his death in 1938 of liver disease. Hearing these confidently late-romantic essays one is often forcefully reminded of Rachmaninov. The virtuosic Shkoda is well attuned to the super-heated fumes and stormily shuddering idiom. These ‘signatures’ remained pretty stable across the decade if these three sonatas are anything to go by. The first and third sonatas are in a single movement while the Second Sonata is in a more conventional three movements. The Third Sonata ogles Scriabin and Medtner but its centre of gravity rests firmly with Rachmaninov.
I cannot help but be more than curious about his orchestral works including the Heroic Overture (1932), Moldavian Poem (1937), Violin Concerto (1919) and Piano Concerto (1928). His chamber music also beckons: Cello Sonata (1923), Violin Sonata (1927), Classical Trio (1927) and Viola Sonata (1928). There’s even a film score: Last Port (1934). There’s also a lot more music for piano solo: two concert waltzes, Op. 22 (1931), Eleven Etudes, Op. 8 (1922–23), Eleven Etudes in the Form of Old Dances, Op. 19 (1927–29), six ‘poems’ including the Fantastic Poem, Op. 11, No. 3 (1921), Two Poem-Legends, Op. 12 (1921) and Twenty-Four Children’s Pieces, Op. 25 (1936). I rather hope we will hear more from Shkoda who also provides the liner note for this disc.

Rob Barnett
Confidently late-romantic essays in which one is often reminded of Rachmaninov.