MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an exhibition;
RACHMANINOV: Piano Sonata No. 2;
PROKOFIEV: Visions Fugitives;
SCRIABIN: Eight Preludes; feuillet d'Album Op. 45/1
Eugene Mogilevsky (piano)
IMP PCD 1087
76: 16 mins DDD
Piano playing of immense imaginative power to match the diversity of programme content. Eugene Mogilevsky's LP recording of Rachmaninov's Third Concerto (sadly no longer available) won a Record of the Year award and to my knowledge this is his first CD release hear since a Prokofiev/Schumann coupling for Meloydia in 1974.
Mogilevsky presents each of the character studies in Pictures at an Exhibition in very free fashion. The grotesquerie of '"Gnomus" and the atmosphere of 'll vecchio castello are dramatically enhanced by a heightened use of dynamics. The thudding bass figure in 'Bydio' has a satisfying hint of menace , the final statement curiously repeated though not indicated in the score. Mogilevsky's evocation of children's laugher in 'Toolers' and the snide interplay of 'Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle' is masterly, while 'Catacombs - Cum mortis in lingua mortua' - with a bleak use of tonal contrast chills to the bone, and Baba Yaga's anarchic and murderous prancing is erased by an awesomely majestic handling of 'The Great Gate of Kiev.'
There is a link between this and the next item for Rachmaninov made an early reputation conducting Mussorgsky's Boris Gudunov Mogilevsky's larger-than-life Pictures at an Exhibition contrasts strongly with his attitude to Rachmaninov's Second Piano Sonata in the 1931 revised version. His distinctive rubato may not suit all tastes and long stretches of the music are very slow, if magnificently controlled; he only fully picks up the pace for the presto section of the finale. However, I do admire the sheer pianistic skill with which he keeps all the lengthy sections together and the undoubted honesty of his approach. Prokofiev's sharp bitty mood images for Visions fugitives are a perfect foil to Scriabin's passive flights of fancy and the emotional outbursts in the Preludes. Recommended.