PROKOFIEV: Classical Symphony in D; Piano Sonata No. 7; Cello Sonata in C Major; March from The Love for 3 Oranges; TCHAIKOVSKY: Melodie; RACHMANINOV: Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 – Polina Leschenko, p./ Martha Argerich, p./ etc. – Avanti Classic

by | May 8, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

PROKOFIEV: Classical Symphony in D, Op. 25; Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, Op. 83; Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 119; March from The Love for 3 Oranges, Op. 33; TCHAIKOVSKY: Melodie, Op. 42; RACHMANINOV: Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 – Polina Leschenko, piano/Martha Argerich, piano/ Christian Polteras, cello/ Roby Lakatos, violin

Avanti Classic multichannel SACD 5414706 10212,  63:17 ****:

Pianist Polina Leschenko, a former pupil of Pavel Gililov and Alexandre Rabinovitch, is a member of the circle of musicians and acolytes who surround virtuoso Martha Argerich. Leschenko claims that Prokofiev’s wartime Seventh Sonata (1939) became part of her repertory at age twelve, and she certainly has the piece well in hand; its tortuous riffs and emotional labyrinths, including the fierce Precipitato last movement in 7/8, offer little resistance. While the surround sound format does not particularly heighten the already brilliant effects for the solo piano, the combination of Leschenko and Argerich does set off the two keyboards for the fiery, brittle Classical Symphony transcription in whirling colors. The Andante daloroso middle movement of the Sonata, a subdued waltz, proves no less an angular and melancholic testament to Prokofiev’s ironic compassion for humankind.

Prokofiev’s concession to the Romanticism that originally fostered his Russian temperament occurs in the Cello Sonata of 1949, a piece Sviatoslav Richter had premiered (with Rostropovich), as he had the Seventh Sonata. Christian Polteras (b. 1977) is a cellist of considerable expressive power, obviously the fruit of studies with Heinrich Schiff and Boris Pergamenschikov. Poltera’s sweet  bass tones and exalted high melody line confirm Prokofiev’s lyrical impulses even as the sonorities fill up one’s sound space, compliments of the editing and mixing by Aline Blondiau and Hugues Deschaux. If the Seventh Sonata anticipates world calamity, the Cello Sonata laments from the aftermath. The careful listener can find in its first movement occasional quotations from Alexander Nevsky, perhaps de-mythified. Nice sonic separation for the skittish Moderato section, a throwback to Prokofiev’s virile, lyrical sardonicism. The last movement asserts Prokofiev’s often revolutionary harmonic style in subtle strokes, where a touch of Haydn tentatively raises its hand.

For the final three cuts, Leschenko pairs up with Roby Lakatos (b. 1965), a violinist trained in the gypsy tradition – for Tchaikovsky’s balletic Melodie, with its delicate keyboard tissue; then the two take up the Heifetz arrangement of the popular March, Op. 33a in a more sizzling fashion. Lakatos adds his own ornaments in both pieces. Lastly the three colleagues combine for a trio arrangement of Rachmaninov’s familiar Vocalise, which in context might be a lament for the iconoclastic soul of Prokofiev.

— Gary Lemco

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