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Primakov In Concert, Vol. 2: Bach, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Glass

Bach,J.s / Primakov
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9350   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix MendelssohnJohann Sebastian BachClaude DebussyPhilip Glass
Performer:  Vassily Primakov
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



PRIMAKOV IN CONCERT, VOLUME 2 Vassily Primakov (pn) BRIDGE 9350 (67:41)


MENDELSSOHN Songs Without Words, op. 30. BACH French Suite No. 2. GLASS The Hours: Suite. DEBUSSY Suite Bergamasque


This program Read more features live performances collected from various Vassily Primakov recitals from 2005–08. It is composed of collections of pieces: in the Bach and the Debussy, suites; in the Glass, items collected and enhanced in small ways by Primakov (from the transcription by Michael Riesman and Nico Muhly of the music to the movie The Hours ) which he calls a “suite”; and in the Mendelssohn, the complete second published book of his Songs Without Words.


As Mendelssohn is virtually overlooked by most pianists today, it is always a pleasure to see his works being performed in concert. Primakov is a sensitive player in this music but some of his bad habits occasionally obscure the simplicity of the music. His pacing in some of the slower Songs is a bit too slow for my taste, yet his ability to maintain a sense of forward momentum helps him through certain troublesome spots. Strangely, he always begins slower than he desires and accelerates into the tempo at the beginning of each of the Songs . Perhaps he views this as expressive? It is not. He is capable of extremely sensitive playing, however, as in the third and last examples in the book. When he allows the music to say what it needs to without outward intrusion, his performances can be magical. His Bach tends to be lean, yet he uses the pedal generously throughout. The Sarabande in particular is thoughtfully played, with a shimmering quality, while the Gigue is quirky and spirited. This is romantically conceived Bach. The Glass suite contains four different movements from his music to the movie The Hours : “The Poet Acts,” “Morning Passages,” “Tearing Herself Away,” and “The Hours.” The music is simple in ideas, yet never overly simplistic. It is evocative, it is emotive, and perhaps surprisingly, its almost 18 minutes go by very quickly. I am not a fan of Minimalism in general, but within the context of this recital, this music works well. The Debussy Suite Bergamasque is given a very fine performance. Luckily, Primakov is in top form in this little-played masterpiece. He maintains interest by seeking out the character of each movement, which he does with aplomb. From the improvisatory Prelude, through the lighthearted Minuet and lyrical and nostalgic Clair de lune , to the concluding Passepied, Primakov makes each moment special. This is the best playing of the entire recital.


Interestingly, as I mentioned, these pieces were all recorded on separate occasions and put together just for this release. The program itself works. It is varied in terms of time periods, styles, moods, and compositional techniques, it maintains one’s interest from beginning to end. Though not all of the performances are to my liking, the good ones are good. While I still prefer my Mendelssohn a bit less fussy and my Bach a bit more rhythmically strict, Primakov is both exciting and engaging in both the Glass and the Debussy. If this is one’s repertoire of interest, then it would make a very fine addition to one’s collection.


FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

1.
Songs without words, vol 2, Op. 30 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1834; Germany 
2.
French Suite no 2 in C minor, BWV 813 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
4.
The Hours: The Poet Acts by Philip Glass
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
5.
The Hours: Morning Passages by Philip Glass
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2002 
6.
The Hours: Tearing Herself Away by Philip Glass
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
7.
The Hours: The Hours by Philip Glass
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2002; USA 

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