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Edition Klavier-festival Ruhr - Portraits Vol 4


Release Date: 08/11/2009 
Label:  Cavi Music   Catalog #: 8553129   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Robert SchumannJohann Sebastian BachFranz SchubertLudwig van Beethoven,   ... 
Performer:  Mona Asuka OttSalem Abboud AshkarRan JiaMaricio Villana,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



PORTRAITS IV Mauricio Vallina (pn); Saleem Abboud Ashkar (pn); Ran Jia (pn); Mona Asuka Ott (pn); Hisako Kawamura (pn); Alexei Lubimov (pn); Sergej Kasprov (pn); Alexej Zouev (pn) CAVI 8553129 (6 CDs: 455:11)


Music by bach, schumann, liszt, vallina, rimsky-korsakov, schubert, schoenberg, brahms, mozart, beethoven, scarlatti, debussy, franck, scarlatti


With the notable exception of Alexei Lubimov, the pianists featured on these six discs from the 2008 Ruhr Read more Piano Festival in Germany are as yet little known. Although many have won major competitions, their programs here consist mostly of familiar works. For these reasons, I must agree with my colleague Jerry Dubins, who in 32:4 wrote about an even larger set of discs from a previous Ruhr Piano Festival: “Unless one has an abiding passion (and endurance) for musical marathons that have the potential to launch some young, fresh talent on a brilliant career, or one happened to attend such an event and desires a keepsake of it, I see a very limited market for this sort of thing.” The Ruhr, located north of Düsseldorf, is an industrial area known for its excellent beer, its manufacture of munitions, and now this privately financed piano festival, in operation since 1997. The venues for the most recent festival included concert halls in Dortmund, Essen, Bottrop, and Moers. Highlights of the discs are mentioned below.


CD 1: Mauricio Vallina was born in 1970 in Cuba and studied with Alicia de Larrocha and Dmitri Bashkirov, among others. His program consists of Bach’s Organ Fantasy and Fugue in G Minor (transcribed by Liszt); Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes and Abegg Variations ; Liszt’s Valse oubliée No. 1 and Mephisto Waltz No. 1 . This disc gets the set off to a poor start. Unlike his famous mentors, Vallina overinterprets everything. Excessive rubato, exaggerated dynamics, and a fondness for impressionistic pedal effects characterize his mannered performances, which gave me little pleasure. Only Bach’s Fugue emerged relatively unscathed.


CD 2: Saleem Abboud Ashkar, born in Israel, studied at the Royal Academy in London and with Arie Vardi in Hannover. His recital includes Bach’s English Suite No. 2; Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor (D 537); Schoenberg’s Drei Klavierstücke , op. 11; and Brahms’s Fantasien , op. 116. Ashkar is a thoughtful and poetic player. His tempos in the Bach are perfect, though I question why he plays the ornamented version of the Sarabande after the Sarabande itself, since he otherwise omits all repeats in this suite. Schubert’s rather quirky Sonata is nicely scaled, with a good variety of tone and touch. He brings the same degree of sensitivity to the Schoenberg, playing it with obvious affection; and the Brahms pieces are spontaneous, nuanced, and full of the requisite bravura when called for.


CD 3: Ran Jia, born in China in 1988, studied with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute. Her all-Schubert program consists of the Impromptu in E? (D 899), the Sonata No. 19 in C Minor (D 958), and the Sonata No. 20 in A (D 959). Jia’s Schubert is warm and unforced, even in the propulsive and at times Beethovenian Sonata in C Minor. Subtle tempo modifications and sensitivity to textures add to the success of the outer movements. The finale is one of the most exciting accounts I know, perfectly paced; and her lyricism and balances in the Adagio are ideal. The Sonata in A features a wide variety of dynamics under fine control, the momentum always forward but never rushed. In the outer movements, she holds the listener’s attention continuously, never letting the music sound sectional or discursive, and in the Andantino she is powerfully hypnotic. Jia is young artist to watch, a mature and gifted musician.


CD 4: Mona Asuka Ott was born in Munich in 1991 and has studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling. Her recital includes Mozart’s Rondo in D, K 485; Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 in C Minor; Liszt’s Venezia e Napoli ; Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke , D 946; and Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole . Ott is the youngest of the six players, and she shows much promise. Her Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert are all first-rate, even when compared with more established artists in this familiar repertoire. She plays with subtle contrasts of touch, good pacing, and fine balances throughout. The Liszt pieces are full of lovely coloristic moments, and she plays the toughest passages of the Tarantella and the Rhapsodie espagnole with brilliance and natural flair.


CD 5: Hisako Kawamura, born in Japan in 1981, studied with Vladimir Krainev and won first prize at the 2007 Clara Haskil Competition. She plays Schumann’s Humoreske , op. 20; five Scarlatti sonatas; Debussy’s suite Pour le piano ; and Franck’s Prélude, Choral et Fugue . Kawamura captures the dreamy and the impulsive sides of Schumann to perfection, playing one of the finest accounts of the Humoreske I know—including the stellar ones by Sviatoslav Richter and Cynthia Raim. For 30 minutes she takes us into another world with playing that is utterly captivating. I would almost recommend buying the six discs just to get this Schumann performance. In the other works she reveals further facets of her artistry, with sparkling Scarlatti and colorful, committed playing in the Debussy and Franck. Kawamura seems to have everything it takes for a major career.


CD 6: Sergei Kasprov, born in 1979, studied at the Moscow Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum in Paris. He shares the disc with Alexej Zouev, born in 1982, and their venerable teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, Alexei Lubimov. Kasprov plays five Scarlatti sonatas; and, with Lubimov, Mozart’s Larghetto und Allegro in E? (completed by Robert Levin) and three of Schumann’s Canons, op. 56. Zouev plays Schumann’s Sonata in G Minor and, with Lubimov, Debussy’s “Nuage” and “Fêtes.” Kasprov’s Scarlatti is clear, witty, and spontaneous sounding, with an admirable variety of touches. Zouev plays the outer movements of the Schumann Sonata with wonderful fire and sweep, and a more meltingly beautiful performance of the Andantino would be hard to imagine. The Mozart rarity is played with impeccable ensemble, and in Ravel’s masterful transcription of the two Debussy pieces we are allowed to forget the orchestral original and to revel in glorious piano sound.


There is much fine playing on these discs. The sound, recorded throughout by Christoph Martin Frommen, is natural and clear without sounding over-close. The booklet includes full documentation on the artists and their programs.


FANFARE: Charles Timbrell
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Works on This Recording

1.
Humoreske for Piano in B flat major, Op. 20 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Maricio Villana (Piano), Alexei Zouev (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano),
Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Hisako Kawamura (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
2.
Theme and Variations for Piano on the name ABEGG, Op. 1 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Alexei Zouev (Piano), Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano),
Alexej Kasprov (Piano), Maricio Villana (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano),
Ran Jia (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Germany 
3.
Symphonic Etudes for Piano, Op. 13 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Maricio Villana (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano),
Alexei Zouev (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano),
Alexej Kasprov (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837/1852; Germany 
Notes: Composition written: Germany (1837).
Composition revised: Germany (1852). 
4.
English Suite no 2 in A minor, BWV 807 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Maricio Villana (Piano), Alexei Zouev (Piano),
Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano),
Alexej Kasprov (Piano), Hisako Kawamura (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715; Weimar, Germany 
5.
Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 "Great G minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alexej Kasprov (Piano), Alexei Zouev (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano),
Maricio Villana (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Hisako Kawamura (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
6.
Impromptus (4) for Piano, D 899/Op. 90: no 2 in E flat major by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano),
Alexei Zouev (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Maricio Villana (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Pieces (3) for Piano, D 946 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Maricio Villana (Piano), Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano),
Alexei Zouev (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano),
Maricio Villana (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Alexei Zouev (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Mephisto Waltz(es) by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano),
Maricio Villana (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Alexei Zouev (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
10.
Venezia e Napoli, S 162 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Hisako Kawamura (Piano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano),
Maricio Villana (Piano), Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano),
Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano), Alexei Zouev (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Weimar, Germany 
11.
Hungarian Rhapsodies (19) for Piano, S 244: no 15 in a "Rákóczy March" by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Mona Asuka Ott (Piano), Ran Jia (Piano), Salem Abboud Ashkar (Piano),
Alexei Zouev (Piano), Maricio Villana (Piano), Alexej Kasprov (Piano),
Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Hisako Kawamura (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1886 

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