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Anatoly LYADOV (1855-1914)
Complete Works for Piano - Volumes 3 and 4
Olga Solovieva (piano)
rec. December 2012, May, June, October 2014, February, June and July 2015, Studio 1 of the Russian Radio House GTRK Kultura, Moscow
NORTHERN FLOWERS NFPMA99113/114 [63:37 + 72:11]

I last encountered Olga Solovieva’s Lyadov over two years ago in her Toccata release (review). It looks like the label didn’t pursue the series beyond that first volume. Northern Flowers, if I am untangling the matter correctly, had already released the first two volumes in the series before – I assume – Toccata were licensed just the first volume. Well, now here comes a conjoined Northern Flowers third and fourth volume recorded between 2012 and 2015 and, as before, presenting the music in strict chronological opus order.

If you’ve invested in the first volume of the Toccata it seems likely that, in order to get the whole of Lyadov’s piano music, you’ll have to reinvest in the NF edition. The good news is that Solovieva shows no sign of fatigue even in some of that repertoire which is not always inspired. She invariably brings vigour and vibrancy to bear. Once more she comes into competition with Stephen Coombes’ single disc survey (Hyperion CDA66986) at a few points in her systematic and comprehensive edition. In the Preludes, Op.36 she is given the sharper, more focused recording, and she is the more emphatic performer. Coombes’ flexible rubato gives the central Prelude a more quasi-improvisational feel. He is superior in the Barcarolle, Op.45 where his left hand pointing is less predictably metrical, and this, allied to subtle coloration, evokes more of a gliding rhythm than Solovieva’s somewhat lumpy effect. But she is fine on her own terms in the delightfully spry Etude, Op.37 and the thematically packed Mazurka, Op.38 where there’s almost too much going on - some of it decidedly comic. The Chopinesque second Prelude from the Op.40 set is well nourished and the biggest work here, the Variations on a theme of Glinka, Op.35 draws on a full complement of scherzi, mazurkas, and barcarolles. Coombes has the warmer recording quality and characterises just that bit harder.

The only other big work is the 11-minute Variations on a Polish folk theme, op.51 which lacks real internal contrast but is well played here, as indeed it is by Coombes. The sequence of Bagatelles and Morceaux offer the expected succinct pleasures, though some stubbornly refuse to embrace distinction. The Mazurka from the Op.57 set could have done with greater phrasal etching. The most interesting challenge comes in one of the outstanding sequences in this twofer, namely the Quatre Morceaux, Op.64 where Solovieva and Coombes take profitably divergent views of the music, vesting it either with a greater narrative charge or with a vein of impressionism. The most startling difference is in the final movement, Reminiscence, which she plays at half Coombes’ tempo: he evokes youthful Úlan but she prefers a studied almost languorous melancholy. Op.64 is clearly the best and most interesting music in this set and rewards close listening. The remainder of the second disc is given over to musical trinkets and occasional pieces, some barely 30 seconds long and one only 10 seconds in length. Others are more developed. There are worthwhile things to be found here, but of a masterpiece there is no trace.

This set has been nicely documented. The recording is sometimes close enough to catch the piano’s action but is otherwise generally effectively done.

Jonathan Woolf

Ballet Pieces for piano (3), op.52
Barcarolle in F sharp major, op.44
By Lord Boredomston
Canons (3), op.34
Canons (12) on a cantus firmus
Chorus or Scherzo
Dance of the Mosquito
Etude and Canzonetta, op.48
Etude and Preludes for piano (4), op.40
Etude in F major for piano, op.37
Fugues for piano (2), op.41
Fuguette on the Theme B-La-F
Fuguette on the Theme La-Do-Fa
Introduction to Franz Liszt's Oratoria
Mazurka in F major for piano, op.38
Morceaux (3), op.57
Pieces for piano (4), op.64
Prelude in F, op.posth
Preludes (2) and Mazurka for piano, op.42
Preludes for piano (3), op.36
Preludes for piano (4), op.39
Preludes for piano (4), op.46
The Herdsman
The Mussorgsko-Dargomyzhsko-Cuian Scale
The Procession
To Vladimir Stassov
To the fine poet Vladimir Belsky
Variations on a Polish folk theme, op.51
Variations on a Russian folk theme
Variations on a theme by Glinka, op.35
Yarilo's Day



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