Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto in the Italian Style ‘Italian Concerto’, BWV971 [11:51]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Etudes, Op.10: No.1 in C major [1:59]: No.3 in E major [4:12]: No.4 in C sharp minor [2:04]: No.5 in G flat major [1:38]: No.6 in E flat minor [3:46]
Scherzo No.2 in F minor, Op.31 [9:43]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Fantasia in C minor, K475 (1785) [13:22]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Carnaval, Op.9 [27:50]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Images: Book I, No.1 Ręflets dans l’eau (1905) [6:00]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
12 Grandes etudes de Paganini, S141; No.3 in G sharp minor; La campanella (1838) [4:44]
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Etudes, Op.10, No.8 in F major [2:34]
Youri Egorov (piano)
rec. live at Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena, CA, USA, 2 December 1978; Liszt: rec. 1980

This is the second release devoted by FHR to the sadly short-lived Russian pianist Youri Egorov. Their earlier disc (see review) revealed that he was already a complete artist and this release reinforces that perception in another recital from Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena given in December 1978, two years earlier than that enshrined on FHR44.

Egorov’s Italian Concerto – a really rather old-school work to play but of a piece with his selection principles in this recital - is unexaggerated and full of digital clarity and balance. Voicings are pleasingly warm in the central movement and the finale is appropriately directional and full of brio. The deft bass pointing is admirable. He plays five of Chopin’s Op.10 Etudes – the first six via omitting No.2. In the companion disc, which charted his 1980 recital, he played the entire Op.25 set. There are a couple of trivial mishits in the opening C major but then he goes for the expressive jugular in the E major. Rubato is controlled yet quietly potent in the G flat major and the concluding E flat minor is thoughtfully dispatched. The Scherzo No.2 in F minor is technically powerful but expressively embraces playfulness as well as bravura.

One wouldn’t have thought, given that there are only two recitals involved, that there would be very much danger of reportorial duplication, but one would be wrong: he played Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor at both the 1978 and 1980 recitals. He opens again with watchful subtlety but thereafter plays much more deliberately than the later performance, which was altogether more directional. Maybe he felt dissatisfied with this reading or maybe he was on a voyage of discovery with it, modifying his approach over the two-year period. Whichever is true – or maybe neither is true – it affords an interesting interpretative slant on a still-evolving interpretation yet to harden into routine.

Carnaval offers a truly stern test of his mettle. Here contrasts are well explored, colour is deftly suggested, and there is nobility and fire – but a fire that never burns inappropriately brightly. He is predictably fine in Coquette and Chopin. Egorov retains a certain hauteur in his reading though the concluding March is quick and very exciting indeed. More evidence of his excellent Debussy, familiar from his few LPs, comes in the form of Ręflets dans l’eau. He was also to play it at the 1980 recital. Liszt’s La campanella is familiar from the previous CD, as it comes from that later recital. But the F major Chopin Etude, Op.10 No.8 is interesting as it comes from the 1978 recital but without an audience. Was it before the concert or after, one wonders.

Let’s hope more Egorov recitals will be forthcoming from this source, as the sound is excellent and the performances shine renewed light on a fine talent lost too young.

Jonathan Woolf

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