Mstation Classical Reviews

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Sun, 29 Jan 2006

Dukachev - Beethoven, Prokofiev, Rachminov

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata no 14 in c sharp minor "The Moonlight" [15.41]
Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
'The Seasons' Op37b 
No 1 (January - at the fireside) and No 11 (November - Troika) [7.44]
Morceau Op72 No5 in D [4.45]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
20 Visions Fugitives Op22 Nos 1,7,10,6,11 & 17 [7.06]
10 Pieces from 'Romeo and Juliet' Op75 No10 [7.01]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Variations on a theme of Corelli Op42 [17.18]
Prelude in d minor Op23 No3 [3.51]
Morceau de salon Op10 No3 [4.07]
Prelude in B flat major Op23 No2 [3.30]

rec July 2001, Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom

The live recital on disc has become a popular format in recent years and this presentation from Dunelm Records of the distinguished Russian pianist Sergei Dukachev shows the format to good advantage. The programme, recorded in a recital at Royal Holloway College of the University of London in Egham, in the leafy Surrey suburbs of outer London, begins with a spirited Moonlight sonata in the finale of which we hear Dukachev's immaculate technique used to the advantage of the music's virtuosic requirements.

The rest of the programme is of Russian music, with a nice balance between heavyweight and lighter works. Rachmaninov's Variations on a theme of Corelli Op42 (actually variations on the old Spanish song La Folia on which Corelli wrote his own famous variations in the Op5 sonatas for violin and basso continuo) is one of the master pianist's greatest solo works, reinterpreting the variation form so beloved of baroque composers with all the style and elegance of Corelli, but with a substantial dose of romantic virtuosity and depth thrown in. This is complimented well by the darker colours of the B flat and d minor preludes from Op23 - Rachmaninov with his Russian hat on.

Tchaikovsky's piano pieces based on the twelve months of the year are not so frequently heard and do not have the levels of angst that we tend to associate with the terminally depressed Tchaikovsky, but there is much of charm in them. Dukachev's Troika starts a little ponderously, but the central lively section is full of delicate touches and carefully balanced between the hands.

Prokofiev's 20 Visions Fugitives Op22 are much shorter works and display less of the vigorous rhythm of his larger works, but throughout, there is that piquant harmonic language that makes Prokofiev so individual. These are tiny masterpieces given a sympathetic reading that does not try o make of them more than they are. At first glance, the inclusion of a piano rendition of part of the Romeo and Juliet ballet music is an odd exception, but No 10 Romeo and Juliet before parting inhabits the same gentle sound-world as the Visions Fugitives and pairs well with them. In all this is a commendable recital disc that bears repeated listening. Dukachev has no oddities and plays the music straight, albeit with superb technical control and a beautifully manicured tone. The appearance of the disc, in particular the booklet and back cover, have a somewhat home-made feel, not helped by the cheap paper on which the printing has been done, but this only detracts from the feel of the disc - the sound is consistently good.

(c) 2006 Peter Wells

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