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Discovering A Legend: Vera Gornostaeva, Vol. 3

Beethoven / Mozart / Gornostaeva,Vera
Release Date: 01/01/2014 
Label:  Lp Classics   Catalog #: 5638183614   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenWolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vera Gornostaeva
Conductor:  Vladimir FedoseyevSaulius Sondeckis
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 1. MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 2 Vera Gornostaeva (pn); 1 Vladimir Fedoseyev, cond; 1 Moscow Radio SO; 2 Saulius Sondeckis, cond; 2 St Academic SO of Russia Read more LP 1011 (68:50) Live: Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory 1 10/11/1974; 2 4/21/1987

In Fanfare 36:3 two reviewers, Peter Rabinowitz and David DeBoor Canfield, reviewed a recital disc of Russian repertoire by Vera Gornostaeva on the same label, which was titled Discovering a Legend, Volume II . In Fanfare 35:4, Boyd Pomeroy and Dave Saemann reviewed the first volume of the series, an all-Chopin disc. All four reviewers were extremely enthusiastic. All spoke about her superb technique, her singing tone, her musical intelligence and imagination, and her “considerable warmth.” It is only fair to point out that in 36:4 the always iconoclastic Lynn René Bayley demurred, finding the playing lacking in musical imagination. I listened to this disc, the third volume, and formed my reactions before reading any of those reviews, but I can say firmly that you may count me with the majority.

Gornostaeva was born in 1929 and was a pupil of one of Russia’s great piano pedagogues, Heinrich Neuhaus. She in turn taught Vassily Primakov, who is beginning to make an important career now. She was virtually unknown outside of Russia, forbidden to travel abroad for what the notes to this disc call “political and religious reasons.” She apparently was no friend of the Communist authorities, and was thus blacklisted. Invitations from the West kept coming and being rejected by the regime. By the time Russia opened up more and she was allowed to travel, she no longer played very much, but did an enormous amount of teaching in Europe, the USA, and Japan. She apparently still is active as a teacher and as an adjudicator at competitions.

What I hear in these two performances is first of all a complete command of the instrument. Her runs and passagework are absolutely even, with every note given its appropriate weight, and with complete rhythmic control. There is nothing idiosyncratic in the performances, no moments that make you do a double-take (as there can be with some great artists like Richter). But there is a definite sense of coloristic imagination, and poetry. The slow movement of the Beethoven almost makes one hold one’s breath for fear of breaking the spell. She employs rubato, but subtly and effectively, always within the structure and shape of the music. The word that keeps coming to my mind is warmth—a warmth of tone, of phrase shaping, that imbues everything she plays. And although by 1987 she was teaching more than she was performing, there is no sense of diminution of skills in the Mozart.

The Beethoven has both power and beauty, and the Mozart has intimacy and a pearly legato, though it is also more big-boned than most of the Mozart we hear today. There is a sense of importance, a musical face, to these performances that is apparent from the outset. Both conductors and orchestras seem completely attuned to her playing, though there are a few too-heavy touches in some of the Mozart tuttis. The sound is more than acceptable for live Russian recordings from that era; the Beethoven (even though earlier) is a bit clearer, the Mozart a touch muddy. But the sound doesn’t get in the way of enjoyment. After hearing this, the first thing I did was go to my computer and order the first two volumes. I hope there are many more.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Vera Gornostaeva (Piano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/11/1974 
Venue:  Live  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire 
Length: 37 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vera Gornostaeva (Piano)
Conductor:  Saulius Sondeckis
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/21/1987 
Venue:  Live  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire 
Length: 31 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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