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Tchaikovsky: The Seasons / Pavel Kolesnikov

Release Date: 06/10/2014 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 68028   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Pavel Kolesnikov
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Pavel Kolesnikov became Laureate of the Honens Prize for Piano in 2012 and gave his Wigmore Hall debut at the beginning of 2013. In his five-star review for The Daily Telegraph, John Allison praised the Russian-born, London-based artist for his recital’s ‘intelligent programming and outstanding pianism … one of the most memorable of such occasions London has witnessed’.

Hyperion is delighted to present this brilliant young artist in an album of Tchaikovsky’s Les saisons and Six morceaux.

Tchaikovsky’s symphonies and ballets are perhaps the most popular and frequently performed in the entire canon—compared to them his piano music is little-known. It is generally of a much more intimate nature than that of his
Read more compatriots, and has more in common with the emotional subtleties—and melodic beauties—of Schumann’s music.

The seasons is a cycle of twelve pieces, taking the listener through the months of the year. Each piece also has an atmospheric epigraph. The Six morceaux, Op 19, conclude with the ‘Thème original et variations’, which is often performed alone as a concert piece, but is particularly satisfying in context, as recorded here.

R E V I E W:

In 1875 the St. Petersburg music magazine Nouvellist commissioned Tchaikovsky to contribute 12 piano pieces, one for each month of the year. Although the composer evidently tossed them off with little effort, the music’s melodic charm and emotional directness still hold appeal for today’s audiences and the increasing number of pianists who’ve committed the complete Seasons cycle to disc.

Directness is the operative word concerning Pavel Kolesnikov’s subtle and sensitive performances. True, he doesn’t always observe the composer’s dynamic and expressive markings, and generally contains everything within the parameters of mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte. On the other hand, the pianist avoids Olli Mustonen’s exaggerated detaché articulation and Yakov Kasman’s milking of lyrical episodes. In this sense one might consider Kolesnikov’s interpretation as a smaller-scaled replica of Vladimir Ashkenazy’s superb 1999 Decca traversal, albeit without the latter’s overly reverberant sonics.

I sometimes miss the appropriately balletic quality of Pletnev’s phrasing; compare his edgy and excitingly soaring “April” to Kolesnikov’s more measured rendition. Then again, Pletnev’s repeated chords and left hand passagework in “August” yield to Kolesnikov’s supple textural differentiation and characterful lightness.

Kolesnikov mostly distinguishes himself well in the six Op. 19 piano pieces. He anchors the Scherzo Humoresque’s dazzlingly rapid right-hand lines with sharp attention to the left hand’s pointed cross rhythms, while the Nocturne’s wistful melodies convey a floating, almost disembodied quality that is better heard than described.

The pianist’s intelligently unified tempo relationships ensure greater continuity to the Theme and Variations (one of Tchaikovsky’s most overlooked and challenging keyboard masterpieces) than other pianists of note, although I still prefer Andrei Gavrilov (his EMI recording, reissued as part of Philips Great Pianists of the 20th Century series) for his heightened bravura in Variation 4’s staccato chords and throughout the taxing coda, as well as his greater attention to inner voices. For example, Gavrilov deftly contours Variation 2’s “cantando” left hand against the right hand’s decorative filigree, whereas Kolesnikov creates a more generalized textural impression. David Fanning’s booklet notes and Hyperion’s engineering are on the highest level.

-- ClassicsToday.com

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Works on This Recording

Les saisons, Op. 37b by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Pavel Kolesnikov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth 
Length: 41 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Morceaux (6) for Piano, Op. 19 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Pavel Kolesnikov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Russia 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth 
Length: 30 Minutes 33 Secs. 

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