FEINBERG: 4 Preludes, Op. 8; Sonata No. 6, Op. 13; Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 44 – Victor Bunin, piano/ Great Symphony Radio and TV Orchestra/ Gennady Tcherkassov – Classical Records

by | Mar 16, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

FEINBERG: 4 Preludes, Op. 8; Sonata No. 6, Op. 13; Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 44 – Victor Bunin, piano/ Great Symphony Radio and TV Orchestra/ Gennady Tcherkassov – Classical Records CR-075, 65:33 ***:

Samuel Feinberg (1890-1962), if and when he is remembered, comes to mind as a fine interpreter of the Russian school, a purveyor of Chopin and Scriabin, especially. The Op. 8 Preludes (c. 1924) owe their immediate allegiance to Scriabin and a touch of Debussy, with their erotically aggressive, melting contours and counterpoints. Scale passages and whirling figures, whole tones and modal harmonies interact and collide in a filmy, passionate haze. The Op. 13 Sixth Sonata (1923) has about it the post-apocalyptic sensibility of the Russian Revolution gone bad. While structured in sonata-form, the dissonances rage forth, and the moments of repose and relative peace are few and far between. When a lyrical section emerges, it sounds like truncated Rachmaninov. The autograph of the score speaks of “chimes,” but the sonority is that of the last of Poe’s The Bells – the expressionistic, iron bells of death and dissolution. The thickness of the writing makes me think of Medtner, cross-fertilized by Berg.

The Third Concerto (1947) has a dark, romantic character, sympathetic to Tchaikovsky and the gloomy lyricism in Prokofiev. After a long, turgid ebb and flow in the tutti, Allegro maestoso, the piano enters, solo, with a chordal theme in polyphony; it is a cadenza without any prior exposition. Lyrical woodwinds reply, and we might think of Reger’s music, trying hard to be the Brahms D Minor Concerto. The piano responds gently, and we note the writing is all in antiphons. Agitated strings and tympani from the orchestra leads to a series of repeated scales and figures. Another series of anguished, clamoring rhetorical figures to the dark coda, obsessive, stormy. The Andante molto tenuto e cantabile is Mahler, a derivative from the Adagietto from Symphony No. 5. The piano enters almost four minutes into the movement, then combines with a plaintive cello, echoes of the Brahms B-flat Concerto. The music becomes quite dissonant in the orchestra over the dark progressions in the keyboard part, expressionistic in the manner of Alban Berg. An abbreviated piano riff begins the last movement, Un poco agitato, an intermezzo stretched into a Reger clone. Lyricism without melody, orchestral competence without joy in color. For collectors of arcana only, I suspect.

–Gary Lemco

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