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Jonathan Woolf
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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers
Part Two. From 1991 to Now: Disc 2
Kirill VOLKOV (b.1943)
Sonata No.5 (2010) [15:56]
Tatiana CHUDOVA (b.1944)
Sonata (1996) [16:46]
Tolib SHAKHIDI (b. 1946)
Picture itude; 'Sufi and Buddha' (2002) [5:34]
Playing Backgammon (2008) [3:15]
Yuri VORONTSOV (b. 1952)
Sirius (2005) [10:43]
Alexei SERGUNIN (b. 1988)
Origami (2012) [7:14]
Alexei SYSOYEV (b. 1972)
Antiphases (2009) [9:12]
Pianists: Irina Bogdanova (Volkov): Nikita Mndoyants (Chudova): Ekaterina Mechetina (Shakhidi): Fyodor Amirov (Vorontsov): Lukas Geniuas (Sergunin): Yuri Favorin (Sysoyev)
No recording dates or locations
MELODIYA MELCD1002256 [68:47]

Melodiya's anthology of new music is part of a much more visible and aggressive artistic policy of late. This is the second disc in a series of piano compositions, and it takes music written from 1991 onwards from composers who may not have received that much international exposure.

Kirill Volkov's Fifth Piano Sonata of 2010, heard in a premiere recording, in a somewhat dry and cool studio acoustic, marries percussive dynamism with folkloric colour. Its taut and driving qualities are impressive. I sense also a structural kinship with Beethoven's Op.109, though not an expressive one, necessarily. But the folk inflexions and the hints of post-impressionism are attractive, as is the commanding feeling of defiance elsewhere. Tatiana Chudova, a contemporary of Volkov, is represented by her 1996 Sonata, another of the pieces being heard in first-ever recordings. It starts with a toccata whirlwind, a sonata allegro couched in post-Prokofiev style. Restless and sinewy and well-structured in one movement - but clearly delineated sections - this is a spirited, dynamic piece. The last in the trio of 1940s composers is Tolib Shakhidi, Tajikistan's leading composer and a student of Khachaturian. His two pieces offer evocative-sound worlds. Sufi and Buddha (2002) is a concert etude with eastern cadences and a pile-driving level of energy amidst the more reflective moments of stasis. Playing Backgammon is a perpetuum mobile which opens with the same level of toccata-like velocity that characterises much of Chudova's Sonata.

Yuri Vorontsov, by contrast, prefers in Sirius to concentrate on aspects of cosmic light. His sense of cool prismic colour building incrementally to a motion-driven crescendo is exciting, as is the refracting telescope of his imagination. The youngest of the composers is Alexei Sergunin, born in 1988, who has clearly been listening to American models. The recently written Origami has plenty of effective contrasts, hints of minimalism, and some jazzy ones too. Altogether it's un-didactic and refreshing. Finally we hear from the music of Alexei Sysoyev whose 2009 piece Antiphases explores a violent crisis between left and right hands, allowing for moments of brooding introspection in its central section.

A notable feature of the six works is that they're performed by six different pianists. It denies the opportunity of a single interpretative viewpoint but allows one to hear six independent voices. The recording quality invariably varies between locations - some chillier than others - but this is an inventive piece of programming that will appeal to adventurous pianophiles.

Jonathan Woolf