Review by canonical February 28, 2009 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
|I came across this CD, by chance, whilst having a random browse during interval at the Sydney International Piano Competition ... What a superb find it is!
The Schnittke piano sonatas are late works ... written between 1988 -1992 ... but they are surprisingly accessible.
The very first track (the lento of the first piano sonata) starts quietly with pure single notes, which are then increasingly hammered out on the piano, sometimes whilst other keys are held down (but not played), so that the harmonics of the entire piano resonate. And then stop. Igor Tchetuev performs it delicately and brilliantly. His pedal work is amazing, his technique dazzling. The atonal motifs resolve magically to tonality ... until -- what is heard is akin to a glorious Bach chorale, with multi-part voices singing majestically away. At times, the piece has echoes of (oddly for Schnittke) Arvo Part, and at other times, snippets of Ustvolskaya sing through. Later movements have interesting fugal ideas ... but ultimately, it is the interplay of atonal and tonal that is so riveting, and so perfectly handled by Tchetuev.
The sound is superb, and on the SACD partition, it is is almost outrageously good (top notch DSD recording). The quality difference between the SACD stereo sound and the standard redbook CD sound on the same disc is plain to hear. The SACD sound is almost ethereal. It has become my demonstration SACD disc .... and I find myself listening to the opening Lento again and again, as if the piano is right there before me.
The whole package (composition and performance) is deeply intellectual, superbly clean, and enormously exciting. This is certainly the most exciting disc I have found in the last year. Highly recommended.
1. I am also the author of this review on Amazon.
2. There is an interesting blurb in Stereophile on the Caro Mitis label:
which also comments on the fabulous 'overtone reflections' at the start of track 1. They also note that the pianist Igor Tchetuev won both the Leeds International Piano Competition, and the Ninth Artur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition.
Was this review helpful to you?