Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although Samuel Feinberg (1890-1962) is best known today as one of the great Russian pianists of his (or any) generation, his reputation as a composer has been neglected. He mainly concentrated on vocal music and works for his own instrument, including 12 sonatas for piano solo. Having recorded the first six for BIS, pianists Christophe Sirodeau and Nikolaos Samaltanos once again split the labor for the rest (Samaltanos plays Nos. 9, 10, and 11; Sirodeau plays 7, 8, and 12). The influence of Scriabin's later period decisively permeates Feinberg's style in its restless keyboard textures and harmonic density, with hints of the Futurist movement to come. If anything, Feinberg's piano writing often
sounds more complex, like Godowsky transcribing Scriabin, or Szymanowski adding side comments.
The Seventh and Eighth sonatas, both three-movement works, exploit the piano to the hilt, not just in the super-virtuosic outer movements but also in the slow central movements' organ-like sonorities. Sonatas 9, 10, and 11 return to the single, continuous-movement form that Feinberg favored in earlier works and that Scriabin perfected in his last five sonatas. Here, however, the musical language has become more diatonic and superficially accessible (think later Prokofiev), although the technical difficulties hardly abate. Sirodeau and Samaltanos clearly believe in these fascinating albeit uneven works and imbue them with all the dynamic contrast, tonal variety, and technical finish they require. Even the largest, most intractable, note-packed climaxes (such as the Eighth sonata's concluding Allegro) are fully voiced and never banged out. Sirodeau's booklet annotations discuss Feinberg's music in thorough and refreshingly balanced detail, and the sonics are ideal. [3/25/2004]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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