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Reviews: Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 1, Tchaikovsky: The Seasons - Mustonen

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Reviews: 2

Site review by akiralx February 19, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
A fine disc of some slightly unpopular repertoire - the Rachmaninov First Sonata has a similar structure to the far more well-known Second: a restless first movement, a bitttersweet slow movement, and a tempestuous finale. I can't imagine it being done much better than Mustonen manages here: he has a great technique and an ideally full tone for Rachmaninov - quite surprising as he has the reputation of having a rather crisp, occasionally flinty, tone, as demonstrated on his CDs of the Diabelli Variations and Shostakovich/Bach Preludes and Fugues.

So he plays it very well - but the work can't compare in quality to the Second Sonata, being rather amorphous and without the melodic invention of the later work (best heard in its original version, played by Zoltan Kocsis on Philips, for example).

Tchaikovsky's suite The Seasons is a much finer work, though hardly profound in content. Written to order for publication in a monthly periodical, they are merely superior salon pieces, though none the worse for that. Here Mustonen plays the faster numbers the best, while occasionally the slower ones, like the famous Barcarolle (June), are slightly unbeguiling compared to other readings - but at least he avoids sentimentality.

Sonically this is very pleasing via Stax earspeakers, with an excellent piano given fine presence in a spacious acoustic - the SACD layer eliminates the CD layer's tendency to 'ring' on higher notes above forte. Not a piano demonstration SACD, like Tchetuev's Beethoven Sonata disc is, but very good.

This is recommendable, if you like these pieces or want to get to know them - but I don't find the music particularly interesting, especially the Rachmaninov.

Site review by Geohominid September 18, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:    
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